UFC 108 is this Saturday here in America, but before we get to that card, we have a major major fight card going down at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, tonight. If you have HDNet, you will be able to watch “FieLDS Dynamite!! 2009” starting at midnight tonight (12am PT / 3am ET).
New Years is Japan’s biggest holiday and they have put together a fitting fight card to celebrate that fact. Japan’s two largest MMA organizations, DREAM and Sengoku, along with K-1, have joined forces for one amazing 18-fight event.
A few highlights of the card:
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (7-5) vs. Ikuhisa Minowa (43-30-8) – Super Hulk Tournament Finals: It is interesting (although not surprising) to note that it is two of the smaller fighters of a tournament designed to showcase some of MMA’s biggest men who actually made it to the finals. Videos: Sokoudjou interview, Minowaman training & interview (must see)
Prediction: Although Minowaman has a ridiculous experience advantage over Sokoudjou, don’t expect that to make much of a difference in this fight. Sokoudjou is coming off a loss to Gegard Mousasi at “Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Rogers” back in November, but he is still a very dangerous fighter, especially for anyone outside MMA’s top tier, and Minowa is definitely outside the top tier.
Alistair Overeem (31-11) vs. Kazuyuki Fujita (15-8): Strikeforce’s heavyweight champion has not lost an MMA fight since 2007, albeit he has not really fought anyone of true significance in MMA since Paul Buentello in Nov. 2007 when he won the title. He has been doing quite well in K-1, and has proved himself to be among the top strikers in the world. His most notable K-1 victory was his KO win last New Year’s Eve over Badr Hari. Fujita is a PRIDE vetaran with one of the hardest heads in MMA. He once made Fedor do the chicken dance. At nearly 40-years-of-age Fujita’s best days are behind him, and he’s lost his last two fights. Video: Overeem interview
Prediction: Although Fujita is very tough, he has aged. I see Overeem ending this one rather quickly and easily, probably in the first round with a (T)KO.
Satoshi Ishii (0-0) vs. Hidehiko Yoshida (8-7-1): Finally, Satoshi Ishii gets to make his MMA debut. The Olympic judo gold medalist will meet another gold medalist in PRIDE veteran and Japanese legend Hidehiko Yoshida. Ishii will have the weight advantage as well as youth and speed on his side, while Yoshida will have his years of experience. It is literally the old guard vs. the new guard in this judo master match up. Video: Yoshida interview & training
Prediction: No doubt Ishii will win this bout. However, it will be interesting to see just how well developed he has become with his MMA skills. I’m going to predict a first round (T)KO for Ishii.
Shinya Aoki 22-4-0 vs. Mizuto Hirota 12-3-1: It’s the Sengoku lightweight champion, Aoki, versus DREAM’s lightweight champion in Hirota. This is a very interesting match-up as Aoki will have the ground game advantage and Hirota will have the striking advantage. Both fighters are on two-fight win streaks. Video: Aoki interview
Prediction: I have to go with Aoki. Not only does he have an experience advantage, but he has consistently faced and beaten tough competition for a long time now. Aoki by submission.
Gegard Mousasi (27-2-1) vs. Gary Goodridge (23-19-1): We get to see Mousasi display his skills against a much heavier opponent. This was a late addition to the card. Goodridge said he really knows nothing about Mousasi. Goodridge will be matching his weight and experience against Mousasi’s skill and speed. Goodridge will have a puncher’s chance, but not much more. Goodridge has four losses in a row, while Mousasi is on a 14-fight win streak. Videos: Goodridge interview, Mousasi interview
Prediction: Mousasi by first round (T)KO.
There are quite a few more intriguing fights on the card. The Manhoef vs. Misaki fight should be good. We will see if Misaki has the guts to stand with Manhoef, or if he will play it smart and look for a submission. The legend, Sakurai, returns against the very colorful Gono. Kid Yamamoto tries to get back on track after a shocking loss to newcomer Joe Warren. And there are a couple of K-1 bouts of note, including the main event, as Masato fights his farewell bout.
Here is the official fight order for the event:
- 18. Main Event: K-1 (5×3 minutes, 1×3 ext.): Masato vs. Andy Souwer
- 17. Dream (3x5min): Gegard Mousasi 27-2-1 vs. 23-19-1 Gary Goodridge
- 16. DREAM vs. SRC: Shinya Aoki 22-4-0 vs. 12-3-1 Mizuto Hirota
- 15. DREAM vs. SRC: Alistair Overeem 31-11-0 vs. 15-8-0 Kazuyuki Fujita
- 14. Sengoku: Satoshi Ishii vs. Hidehiko Yoshida
- 13. DREAM vs. SRC: Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto 17-2-0 vs. 15-7-5 Masanori Kanehara
- 12. DREAM vs. SRC: Tatsuya Kawajiri 25-5-2 vs. 11-2-3 Kazunori Yokota
- 11. DREAM vs. SRC: Hideo Tokoro 25-21-1 vs. 21-10-3 Jong Man Kim
- 10. DREAM vs. SRC: Melvin Manhoef 23-6-1 vs. 22-9-2 Kazuo Misaki
- 9. DREAM vs. SRC: Hayato “Mach” Sakurai 35-9-2 vs. 30-15-7 Akihiro Gono
- 8. DREAM vs. SRC: Hiroyuki Takaya 12-7-1 vs. 8-8-1 Michihiro Omigawa
- 7. DREAM vs. SRC: Katsuyori Shibata 4-6-1 vs. 0-1-0 Hiroshi Izumi
- 6. K-1 Koshien (Highschool) Tournament Final: Winner of SF 1 vs. Winner of SF 2
- 5. K-1: Ray Sefo vs. Yosuke Nishijima
- 4. Super Hulk Tournament Final: Minowaman vs. Sokoudjou
- 3. K-1 Koshien (Highschool) Tournament Semi-Final 2: Katsuki Ishida vs. Shota Shimada
- 2. K-1 Koshien (Highschool) Tournament Semi-Final 1: Hiroya vs. Masaaki Noiri
- 1. K-1 Koshien (Highschool) Tournament Semi-Final Reserve: Ryuya Kusakabe vs. Tsukasa Fuji