Dream’s parent company, FEG (Fighters Entertainment Group), has released a partial list of the competitors for this year’s welterweight Grand Prix tournament set for April 5th, at Dream 8.
Shinya Aoki, the newly crowned WAMMA LW champion has announced he will make the move up in weight to compete at welterweight in the Grand Prix. As many recall, Aoki submitted the heavily favored Eddie Alvarez at the 2008 New Year’s eve K-1 ‘Dynamite!!’ event to earn the WAMMA Lightweight crown.
Hayoto ‘Mach’ Sakurai has also been confirmed for the Grand Prix, coming off of his first round TKO over Shibata also at the 2008 ‘Dynamite!!’ event on New Years Eve.
A Grand Prix qualifier match has been set for the Deep 40 card, on Feb. 20th. The winner of Hidetaka Monma and DEEP champion Seichi Ikemoto will get an invitation to the Dream Welterweight Grand Prix.
Japanese fight veteran, Ikuhisa Minowa will be fighting on the Dream 8 card, but not in the Grand Prix itself. Many MMA fans might recognize Minowa, as he has fought against a list of the who’s who in mixed martial arts. He has fought such fighters as Evan Tanner, Paulo Fihlo, Ricardo Almeida, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Wanderlai Silva, Kazushi Sakuraba and Mirko Cro Cop, although he has lost to all of them. His most recent fight was a toe-hold submission victory over Errol Zimmerman, in the first round at Dynamite!! on New Year’s eve.
The fights havent been set yet, but many fans would love to see the rematch between Sakurai and Aoki. As many recall, the two first met in a Shooto event back in 2005 where the much more experienced Sakurai pulled off the decision victory. Aoki has since improved his game and has won Shooto’s Middleweight title and most recently the WAMMA Lightweight Title. Both fighters have won their last two matches and are both highly regarded fighters worldwide.
By: Jeff Howard