Hiroyuki Takaya will defend his featherweight title on New Year’s Eve. | Photo: Taro Irei
Two featherweight matchups have been announced for Dream's annual year-end show, promotion officials announced Thursday.
Hiroyuki Takaya defends his featherweight title against Takeshi Inoue and Tatsuya Kawajiri faces Kazuyuki Miyata at the Dec. 31 event, going down from Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Presented by Fields, the event's full title reads, “Fight for Japan: How Are You! New Year! 2011.” The event will air on HDNet, though it is currently unknown if the broadcast will be shown live or via tape delay.
Takaya has won four of his last five fights. Following back-to-back victories over Joachim Hansen and Chase Beebe in 2010, “Streetfight Bancho” closed out last year by winning Dream's featherweight championship and avenging his 2009 loss to Bibiano Fernandes. Following a split decision defeat at the hands of current UFC talent Robert Peralta in April, Takaya rebounded by earning a split verdict of his own over Miyata on July 16.
Inoue rides a three-fight win streak heading into his championship showdown with Takaya. “Lion Takeshi” has been perfect in 2011, earning knockout victories over Taiki Tsuchiya, Koichiro Matsumoto and Caol Uno. A former two-time Shooto143-pound titlist, Inoue owns 10 of his 21 career wins by knockout.
Known for years as one of Japan's best lightweights, Kawajiri recently made a successful featherweight debut against Hansen on Sept. 24, finishing the Norwegian with an arm-triangle choke at Dream 17. The win marked the second consecutive win for “Crusher,” who was dominated in April by Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez.
Miyata's July defeat to Takaya snapped a six-fight win streak for “Little Hercules.” Prior to the defeat, the 35-year-old had racked up wins over Takafumi Otsuka, Inoue and Uno in 2010, defeating all three by decision. A freestyle wrestling representative for Japan at the 2000 Summer Olympics, Miyata owns nearly half of his career wins by submission.