Something crazy happened with DREAM’s Fight for Japan event: most of the matchups were booked in a somewhat timely fashion! The promotion that is famous for booking fights with barely a week or two for fighters to train has done a miraculous job of setting up the majority of the card a good month+ beforehand. Bravo, DREAM. If you actually manage to pay everyone, I can move you above ’16 year old pothead rave promoters’ on the incompetent entrepreneur scale.
But not everyone’s fight has come together smoothly. Shinya Aoki seems to be somewhat picky about who he’s going to fight, possibly in the hopes that he can avoid getting knocked out by someone who moonlights as Sailor Moon again. Here’s the revolving door list of opponents and why they were rejected:
Rich Clementi: The current opponent for Shinya Aoki. Could be replaced at any moment if he decides to ask for money up front.
Shane Nelson: A TUF 8 contestant who quickly washed out of the UFC, my bet is DREAM picked him because he lives in Hawaii so it would save them money on a plane ticket to Japan. He’s only fought once since 2009. Big surprise, Shinya Aoki said “Why the fuck would I fight this random guy?” and refused the match-up.
Antonio McKee: Off for ‘mysterious reasons’ McKee initially tried to say were visa issues. When DREAM officials said that wasn’t true, McKee decided to ‘plead the fifth’ and just say it was his fault the fight wasn’t happening. My bet is he demanded he get paid and then threw in some of that slave / racism talk that’s made him a beloved figure in the MMA community.
Jamie Varner: At one point he was in the running to take this fight, but unfortunately he also feels that fighters should be paid for fighting so that scrapped things.
Willamy Freire: The original opponent, Willamy was also the first guy with visa issues that prevented the fight. According to his coaches, Willamy let his passport expire, which seems like a pretty silly thing to happen to a Brazilian who regularly fights in America. My bet: his visa issue is more of a ‘needing to pay my Visa’ than ‘can’t get Japanese visa’ thing.
Fortunately, the rest of the card seems to be generally solid. Since this event is being sold as a benefit show with mostly Japanese fighters, there aren’t a lot of ways for the promotion to mess things up. Looking at how hard it was to sort out a single foreigner fight for Aoki, that’s probably a good thing.
DREAM.17: Fight for Japan
May 29th, 2011
- Kenji Osawa vs. Takafumi Otsuka
- Keisuke Fujiwara vs. Masakazu Imanari
- Yoshiro Maeda vs. Hideo Tokoro
- Darren Uyenoyama vs. Atsushi Yamamoto
- Semi-Final Match #1
- Semi-Final Match #2
- Shinya Aoki vs. Rich Clementi
- Katsunori Kikuno vs. Daisuke Nakamura
- Akiyo “Wicky” Nishiura vs. Caol Uno
- Takeshi Inoue vs. Koichiro Matsumoto
- Joachim Hansen vs. Mitsuhiro Ishida