While the world’s attention may have been on UFC 114 this weekend, the Saitama Super Arena played host to Dream 14, the Japanese promotions second event to be held in a cage. With wins for Nick Diaz, Ralek Gracie, Kid Yamamoto and Ikuhisa Minowa, Dream 14 saw a number of exciting fights and decisive victories.
In the main event, the Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz faced Hayato Sakurai in the latest installment of Dream’s new partnership with Strikeforce. The contestant was relatively even to begin with Sakurai pushing the action on the feet until Diaz countered with a takedown. Even on the ground Diaz was frustrated by Sakurai, who from the bottom demonstrated good defense and reduced Diaz to throwing some relatively ineffective punches from first full guard and then half guard. Sakurai was eventually able to get back to his feet but then went for a takedown of his own, so voluntarily putting himself in Diaz always dangerous guard. The gamble didn’t pay off for him as Diaz was eventually able to get an armbar from the bottom and with Sakurai not having the space to roll out the Strikeforce Champion secured the submission at 3.54 minutes.
In what felt more like a bad nostalgia act than the latest instalment in one of the most important rivalries in all of mixed martial arts, Ralek Gracie secured an unanimous decision victory against the ‘Gracie Hunter’ Kazushi Sakuraba. The match was relatively one-sided with Gracie not only having noticeable height, reach and weight advantages but also being stronger and quicker than the Pride veteran. Gracie dominated Sakuraba both on the feet and on the ground, going for a number of submissions throughout the fight and throwing some nice high kicks in the second round. Sakuraba just couldn’t compete with Gracie’s strength, as shown in the second round when Gracie was able to stuff a takedown and then suplex Sakuraba. Sakuraba did have a better third round and quite possibly could have secured the victory with an armbar if the referee hadn’t taken the very odd decision to directly interfere with the fighters in an attempt to pull up Gracie’s shorts. With his momentum disturbed, Sakuraba couldn’t secure the submission and was himself very close to be being submitted by Gracie with an armbar when the time expired. Sakuraba looked very limited, it surely goes without saying that he should have retired a long time ago. Ralek Gracie looked pretty good here but then again he was basically beating up a broken down old man.
The event saw also four convincing first round victories. Kid Yamamoto put his recent losing streak behind with a convincing victory, catching Federico Lopez on the way in with a short right hand before quickly finishing with several unanswered shots to the head. Aikyo Nishiura quickly put Hideo Tokoro away after catching him with a big hook shot. Hiroyuki Takaya had a slightly trickier night, with his opponent Joachim Hansen controlling much of the first round with some strong clinch grappling against the cage. However, Takaya was able to put together a nice combination of punches in the final minute of the first round, and secured the victory with several shots from the top after knocking Hansen down with a right hand. Ikuhisa Minowa also won in the first round, with the Minowaman continuing his run of ‘freak show’ success with an easy victory over the 300-pounder Imani Lee after securing the eye-catching submission victory with what can only be described as a real-life Camel Clutch! As with so many of Minowa’s recent fights the result said more about the quality of his opponent than the qualities of the Super Hulk champion.
In other fights from the show, Kazuyuki Miyata and Kenji Oswa both secured split decision victories, over Takafumi Ostuka and Yoshiro Maeda respectively.
Nick Diaz def. Hayato “Mach” Sakurai via submission (armbar) – Round 1
Ralek Gracie def. Kazushi Sakuraba via unanimous decision
Hiroyuki Takaya def. Joachim Hansen via knockout (punches) – Round 1
Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto def. Federico “Kiko” Lopez via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 1:41
Akiyo Nishiura def. Hideo Tokoro via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 2:51
Kazuyuki Miyata def. Takafumi Otsuka via split decision
Kenji Osawa def. Yoshiro Maeda via split decision
Ikuhisa Minowa def. Imani Lee via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:15
Tags: Kid Yamamoto, Mixed Martial Arts, Nick Diaz