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Continued. . .
The featherweight contest between Daiki "DJ.taiki" Hata (11-5-3) and Hideo Tokoro (21-16-1) was set to determine the final quarterfinalist of the grand prix started at DREAM.7. And as so often with featherweights contests, the two Japanese products did not fail to put on an impressive show.
High-paced throughout, Hata took control of the contest in the early going, but Tokoro never shied away from the battle. A flurry in the second stanza cut Hata, and the wound warranted a quick doctor's check. But the battle went on, and Hata cruised to the unanimous decision win.
Haka, who will join seven other competitors in the second round of the DREAM featherweight grand prix, ran his unbeaten streak to five bouts, while Tokoro has dropped three-straight.
The heavyweight contest between top-20 fighters Jeff Monson (30-8) and Sergei Kharitonov (16-4) brought an old-school "striker vs. grappler" feel. The in-ring action and result echoed the same old-school vibe.
Monson appeared to be in a bit of early trouble, as an unsuccessful takedown attempt left the grappler on his back. Monson powered out and reversed the situation, quickly passing to a North-South position and sinking in a deep choke. Kharitonov offered a few soft punches to the back of Monson's head before tapping out at 1:42 of the opening frame.
Monson has now won six-straight contests, including three in the past three weeks, while Kharitonov loses for the first time in 4 bouts.
Late replacement fighters are supposed to gas. One-day-notice replacements aren't supposed to have a chance. Riki Fukuda (14-4), who stepped in on extremely late notice to face Murilo "Ninja" Rua (16-10-1), didn't get the memo.
In an early "Fight of the Night" candidate, the two stood toe-to-toe throughout the 15-minute affair. Fukuda opened as the surprising aggressor, but Rua battled back with several shots of his own. A cut over Fukuda's right eye became a concern in the first round, but it became apparent the wound would not cause an issue.
Both fighters took turns scoring with heavy shots and winded arms throughout the two rounds. With time running out in the fight, picking a winner was a near impossibility. Sensing the need, Fukuda dug deep and blasted away on Rua. "Ninja" was rocked, but continued to press forward to the final bell.
In the end, the performance by both fighters was courageous, but Fukuda earned the unanimous nod with the final flurry.
Fukuda has now won four-straight contests, while Rua, returning to Japan for the first time in three years, has now lost two consecutive bouts.
Ribeiro returns to prior form; Shibata upsets "Minowaman"
In his first bout in 19 months, Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro (20-2) appeared as if he hardly missed a beat.
While Katsuhiko Nagata (4-5-1) hardly provided the sternest test of the Nova Uniao fighter's career, Ribeiro remained patient in methodically dismantling his opponent. After a brief stretch on the feet, "Shaolin" shot in and pulled guard, then quickly swept to top position. From there the end was increasingly inevitable, though the final moments may not have been foreseeable.
Working freely from dominant position to dominant position, Ribeiro looked for the evening's final hold, but an opening for knee strikes presented itself. "Shaolin" obliged, and a huge gash immediately gushed blood from Nagata's head.
Doctors rushed in to check the huge wound, but the bout was waved off almost immediately at the 7:58 mark.
The win is Ribeiro's first since a 35-second TKO to Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante in 2007, while Nagata remains winless in his past four contests.
After dropping his pro debut, Brazilian Andrews Nakahara (2-1) looked to earn a second-straight win in his bout with Shungo Oyama (7-12). Nakahara would reach his goal, but the win came in the oddest of manners.
Nakahara opened with a series of stinging low kicks, but Oyama closed the distance and dropped for a rolling knee bar on two separate occasions. Neither attempt was successful, and the second was downright destructive.
Oyama appeared to strike his head on the mat as he dropped, and Nakahara pulled back on a soccer kick to the head as his Japanese opponent woozily returned to his knees. After assessing the situation briefly, Nakahara moved in with a quick series of punches that forced the stoppage at 2:00 of the opening frame.
The evening's opening bout between Japanese fighters Katsuyori Shibata (3-6-1) and Ikuhisa "Minowaman" Minowa (41-30-8) started slowly, but quickly became a war of attrition.
A 15-minute affair, little separated the two combatants for the majority of the contest. Minowa appeared to outwrestle his less-experienced opponent for much of the affair, but the performance was hardly convincing. As the fight's closing minutes rolled on, the uber-veteran - who would seem to have the advantage in such a test of character - instead folded to the pressure.
Shibata picked up the pace in the final seconds, slamming Minowa to the mat with an impressive German suplex before finishing out the fight on the back of "Minowaman." The final series undoubtedly left a stern impression in the minds of the judges, and though Minowa had been effective in stretches, he was never close to ending the fight.
Shibata earned the fight on all three judges' cards - his first win in eight contests.
* Hayato "Mach" Sakurai def. Shinya Aoki via TKO (strikes) - Round 1, 0:27*
* Jason High def. Yuya Shirai via technical submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 1, 0:59*
* Marius Zaromskis def. Seichi Ikemoto via unanimous decision*
* Andre Galvao def. John Alessio via submission (arm bar) - Round 1, 7:34*
* Daiki "DJ.taiki" Hata def. Hideo Tokoro via unanimous decision+
* Jeff Monson def. Sergei Kharitonov via submission (North-South choke) - Round 1, 1:42
* Riki Fukuda def. Murilo "Ninja" Rua via unanimous decision
* Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro def. Katsuhiko Nagata via TKO (cut) - Round 1, 7:58
* Andrews Nakahara def. Shungo Oyama via TKO (strikes) - Round 1, 2:00
* Katsutori Shibata def. Ikuhisa "Minowaman" Minowa via unanimous decision