I really like watching DREAM because they're inevitably airing live in Japan, which means at 2 or 3 in the morning over here when nothing else is on, HDNet doesn't have a whole lot of commercials, the videos and entrances are awesome, Lenne Hardt screams like a banshee in English and I love that, Michael Schiavello is tolerable and sprinkles plenty of pro wrestling references where he can, and there's always a small, dedicated group of Twitterers to watch along with, using three or four languages, making Google Translate a lifesaver.
There's also the fact that every time I watch DREAM I am certain that THIS will be the last time because they'll finally run out of money and just stop functioning. But you know...they really packed them into the Saitama Super Arena tonight. I don't know how much cash money that translates to, but there's always hope.
Ultimately, it's quality - well, Japan quality - MMA, it's included in the cable bill I'm already paying and it helps me feel like part of an exclusive snooty douchey club, watching this thing that barely anybody else is watching with my nose in the air right up until it falls back down as I find myself unconsciously dozing off since it's coming on 6am.
(Seriously, though, why can't Strikeforce do entrances like DREAM does? Do they think Americans aren't going to eat this up with a spoon? Are they worried it would look to WWE-like? Do they think it costs too much money? Who can say.)
Here's the results and some musings in something approaching real time.
1. Minowaman vs. Imani Lee (Open Weight) - Minowaman rocks the mullet and the red Speedos. Lee just finished up his year in WWE Developmental, and the only time you or I might have seen him was when he was masked and standing in for Cedric the Entertainer during his RAW "match" with Chavo Guerrero. Minowaman's sole purpose in DREAM seems to be to defeat tomato cans weighing more than 300 pounds - something the commissions wouldn't bless here in the States - and this was no exception. The only surprise was that it took as long as it did. Minowaman via submission (rear naked choke) in 4:15 of Round 1.
2. Kenji Osawa vs. Yoshiro Maeda (Featherweight) - Whole lotta nothin'. Even by the time the final standup was called for with under 2:00 to go in Round 3, anybody could have stolen this one due to the scoring style (pick the winner overall, as opposed to a 10 pount must, round by round...which, just to confuse things, was how colour commentator Frank Trigg was scoring). But the fireworks never happened. I think my expectation was that Maeda had more control of what little actually went on and he would take it, but the judges went 2-1 for Osawa in a split decision, so I guess Osawa staving off Maeda was more impressive in the judges' eyes. Actually, I had trouble paying attention as it was really, really, really boring - I can't argue with the decision. Maeda cried? Let's just move on!
3. Kazuyuki Miyata vs. Takafumi Otsuka (Featherweight) - For his purple gladiator skirt, Otsuka should have won on sartorial splendor alone. Another close fight, but with A LOT more action than the previous fight. Again, I think Otsuka kept control for a larger proportion of the fight, but Miyata bloodied Otsuka's nose, and that might have left a more indelible impression on the judges. Miyata got busy the last two minutes of Round 3, didn't pull off the suplex, but DID pretty much dominate the ground game of the final 1:30 - commentators thought that would be enough to steal the fight. I wouldn't be surprised if it were another split decision...sure enough, a 2-1 decision for Miyata.
4. Akio "Wicky" Nishiura vs. Hideo Tokoro (Featherweight) - I think Schiavello & Trigg enjoy these featherweight fights a whole lot more than I do. Never bet against the man who can get away with wearing almost all pink (including dyed hair). Wicky got the first punch, pressed the pace, got some quick takedowns, almost lucked into a punch that connected with the back of Tokoro's head, lept on the turtling Tokoro and hammerfisted his way to a relatively quick ref stoppage at 2:51 into Round 1.
5. Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto vs. Kiko Lopez (Featherweight) - These might all be featherweight fights but I DO feel the level of quality rising the deeper we get into the card - although I can't help but feel like this one MIGHT be a bit one-sided against the American and go fast. Even the announcers are just waiting for Kid to unload that first bomb and end it. Lopez is at least a gamer, throwing legs - whoops, there it was. Big right hand and SEE YA. Kid Yamamoto pounces on the already out Lopez and unloads with hammer lefts until the ref wakes up and stops it at 1:40 of Round 1. Kid kisses the camera for good measure.
INTERMISSION - the trick is to try to get in a quick nap, but not let your body drift into the kind of sleep it's expecting to get by 04:20 in the morning, especailly with a few beers in ya. HDNet actually has a GREAT package of DREAM clips airing here, which is keeping me from catching those Z's. I probably should pop some corn here.
While I was doing some dishes, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Shinya Aoki made apperances to hype their upcoming lightweight championship match at DREAM.15 - it'll be interesting to see what if any Aoki's recent five round slog in Strikeforce with Gilbert Melendez might have on his next match. Twitter tells me that card will take place on 7/10.
6. Joachim Hansen vs. Hiroyuki Takaya (Featherweight) Didn't expect this one to go the distance - also didn't expect Takaya to stand a chance. I was totally wrong, as Takaya caught Hansen napping with one right to stagger him and another to put him down and then went to the hammers until the ref stopped it at 4:27 in Round 1. I was going to say I thought maybe Hansen was trying to coast out of the round as an earlier eyepoke had bothered him a lot more than he thought, but I don't think that really played into the ending as Hansen just moved in too far and got caught.
7. Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Ralek Gracie (Middleweight) This was the one I was waiting for, and from the pop, I think most of the crowd in the Saitama Super Arena may have felt the same way. Sakuraba was clearly the #1 man in the building tonight. The pre-match vignette labeled "REVENGE of GRACIE" but after seeing Roger at Strikeforce, and keeping in mind that Sakuraba has been through so many other Gracies, I wasn't sure the inexperienced (2-0) Ralek could carry Sakuraba's crazy mask. I also felt bad that his directive was "if you get Kimura'd, don't come home." ON THE OTHER HAND, having seen Sakuraba's previous match at DREAM.12 where he really should have lost but for the ref refusing to stop it and Sakuraba somehow escaping, and knowing this man really should have considered retirement...well, this is why I don't wager on this stuff. Sakuraba's entrance stressed how much he hated the cage - or I should say "we love ring!" Well, I love cage, so nyah nyah nyah. I'm gonna shut up now and watch this match. Well...I think Sakuraba ran out of magic. He may have been seduced by the idea of the Kimura to the point where he gave up the chance to bring it back to the stand up where he was much more effective (although I'm pretty sure Gracie's cut came from a headbutt - something the announcers didn't catch during the replay). In the end, Sakuraba looked once again like he should be considering retirement...but probably won't. I should probably mention the bit about the ref pulling up the pants but I didn't really think it affected anything, so.
8. Hayato "Mach" Sakurai vs. Nick Diaz (Welterweight) Going in, the latest "DREAM vs. Strikeforce" encounter seemed like a foregone conclusion - one more notch on the Strikeforce bedpost. Interestingly, DREAM has no qualms at all about incorporating clips of the postmatch brawl from Nashville - while playing a mashup of Darth Vader's theme with the Chemical Brothers' "Galvanize" - in fact, whoever's behind DREAM's vignettes tonight must have just learned about mashups because they're being used HEAVILY tonight. Maybe if Diaz wins, somebody can do a postmatch run-in and try to trigger another brawl. Hey, there's kids in the crowd! Good performances by both men but DREAM goes down again when Sakurai makes a bad choice and eventually succumbs to an armbar, tapping out in 3:54 of Round 1. With word coming that Diaz may face a 9 month suspension, I think talks of getting Diaz into UFC are mre ludicrous than ever.
I enjoy me some DREAM. I don't think anyone could argue the standard is that high from a technical standpoint but that can sometimes lead to more exciting fights. It certainly entertains me more and infuriates me less than Strikeforce recently.
Watching Sakuraba makes me sad when he performs like he did here. The idea of never seeing him fight again isn't a happy one, but he really should give some thought to riding off into the sunset. I'm sure DREAM would be happy to hook him up with a can to crush if he wants one more fight to go out on a high with.
I was amazed to see Hansen lose. Maybe I hold too fond memories of the guy whose knees terrorised folks in PRIDE a few years ago. Kudos to Takaya though.
Diaz v Sakurai was fun whiloe it lasted, but I'm not sure what made Mach think taking Diaz down was a recipe for success. Sure enough, within a minute of doing so he was well and truly armbarred.
Originally posted by CRZSeriously, though, why can't Strikeforce do entrances like DREAM does? Do they think Americans aren't going to eat this up with a spoon? Are they worried it would look to WWE-like? Do they think it costs too much money?
I don't think we should rule out the possibility that they're simply not very bright. In some cases they actually have the entrances but don't bother to show them on TV so it can't just be a cost thing. As a general rule in life I tend to think that where the answer can be "stupid" it invariably is, particularly in the case of Strikeforce.
Originally posted by dMr Watching Sakuraba makes me sad when he performs like he did here. The idea of never seeing him fight again isn't a happy one, but he really should give some thought to riding off into the sunset. I'm sure DREAM would be happy to hook him up with a can to crush if he wants one more fight to go out on a high with.
I would be surprised if Saku retires in the near future. The Japanese scene is weaker than it's been since Pride first took off, and stars are few and farbetween--hell, half the reason they've been so hesitant to book Aoki/Kawajiri has been wanting to preserve one of the last true star vs. star matches they had left. They'll keep throwing money at Saku to keep him around, and Saku loves it enough that he'll keep doing it. Which...is probably unfortunate. With both Dream and Sengoku struggling to stay afloat, and It's Showtime making a huge push to put K-1 in second place, I think Saku will be around until the current crop of Japanese feds die.
Originally posted by CRZ (Seriously, though, why can't Strikeforce do entrances like DREAM does? Do they think Americans aren't going to eat this up with a spoon? Are they worried it would look to WWE-like? Do they think it costs too much money? Who can say.)
Strikeforce tries, as sad as it sounds. Mayhem and Mo get their dancing girls, everyone gets flashpots and lights--as far as Strikeforce is concerned, that's going epic. Really, it's kind of an endemic problem with the true Strikeforce vs. the Strikeforce on TV--they're still, at heart, the small, regional promotion running local fighters and kickboxing shows. They don't have real rosters, real matchmaking plans or much of anything else going for them, they're just flying by the seat of their pants, card to card--which, ironically, is why the Japanese-style production would work for them. But it would require severely overhauling their production crew, which would cost a bunch of money, and embracing their fighter-specific freakshow aspect, which hurts the very little legitimacy they already have.
Essentially, they don't do it 'cause they don't know what they're doing.
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An article from Sherdog.com today does a lot to explain one of the biggest reasons I like MMA more than boxing right now. It uses the heavily rumored Rampage/Machida fight to kickstart a discussion of promotor-based combat sports (MMA)