(Photo courtesy of Kamipro via N.o.B.)
Faced with sub-par TV ratings, DREAM is responding by giving Japanese MMA fans what they need — complete and utter insanity. The lineup for DREAM.9 (May 26th, Yokohama, Japan) is already stacked with the quarterfinals for their featherweight GP, the middleweight title fight between Jason Miller and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, and a lightweight feature between Gesias Cavalcante and Tatsuya Kawajiri. But according to Nightmare of Battle, the event will also host the first round of DREAM’s new “Super Hulk Tournament – World Superman Championship” open-weight grand prix. Are you sitting down? Good. Because these matchups may shock you…
Bob Sapp (200cm/147.6kg) vs. Ikuhisa “Minowaman” Minowa (175cm/87kg)
Jan “The Giant” Nortje (211cm/149.5kg) vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (182cm/93kg)
Gegard Mousasi (186cm/97.8kg) vs. Mark Hunt (178cm/130.4kg)
Hong Man Choi (218cm/148.5kg) vs. Jose Canseco (188cm/109kg)
Holy Crap. I don’t even know where to start. Let’s just take this fight by fight…
— A freak-show veteran, Minowaman has spent much of his career battling behemoths like Giant Silva, Butterbean, and Zuluzinho, but for some reason he’s never crossed paths with Sapp. This matchup is an obvious throwback to PRIDE’s open-weight David vs. Goliath features. It’s hard to predict if Sapp will club Minowaman to death, or if Minowa will run circles around Sapp then catch him in a submission that causes the Beast to leave the ring in tears.
— Jan Nortje is the superheavyweight kickboxer who fought Sapp in Strikeforce last February, and made him look like an absolute bitch. Sokoudjou is the UFC washout who has lost three of his last four fights because he’s garbage on the ground. Though the African Assassin won’t have to worry about his opponent’s jiu-jitsu in this match, the sheer size of Nortje might be a challenge. Still, smaller guys have whipped Nortje in the past…
— Gegard Mousasi vacated his DREAM middleweight title in order to compete at light-heavyweight, and has said he’d like to move up to heavyweight eventually. Well, no time like the present, right? Hunt gained legendary status for his kickboxing run in K-1 and classic PRIDE victories over Wanderlei Silva and Mirko Cro Cop, but he’s lost his last four MMA bouts, and suffered his first-ever knockout at the hands of Melvin Manhoef on New Year’s Eve. Could the Super Samoan’s granite chin be cracking? Maybe, but if Hunt still has his knockout power, it could be a rough night for Mousasi.
— And finally, Hong Man Choi vs. Jose Canseco: The pituitary case vs. the steroid snitch celebrity boxer. Choi most recently lost to Mirko Cro Cop at Fields Dynamite!! 2008, while Canseco boxed to a draw against Danny Bonaduce in January. It’s the kind of fight that gives freak shows a bad name. Expect extreme sloppiness. And expect the winner to get their shit completely pushed in during the semi-finals.