Aoki Subs Clementi; Imanari, Tokoro Advance in Dream 135-Pound GP

By: Tony Loiseleur
May 29, 2011
Shinya Aoki took out Rich Clementi at Dream "Fight for Japan." | Photo: Taro Irei/

SAITAMA, Japan -- Shinya Aoki's late replacement opponent in Rich Clementi proved difficult to put away, but the Tobikan Judan no less punished him throughout both rounds before the inevitable finish in the headliner of Dream “Fight for Japan” at the Saitama Super Arena.

Taking Clementi's back and trapping his left arm in the first, Aoki spent a solid five minutes from mount, dropping salvos of punches on the American. Clementi shelled up in defense, but couldn't improve position or escape, prompting referee Yuji Shimada to call a contentious standup to issue the UFC veteran a yellow card for inactivity.

The second frame was similarly a wash for Aoki as he quickly took Clementi's back to drop more punches until mercifully tapping the American with a face crank from the rear-naked choke setup at the 2:32 mark.

Imanari and Tokoro Advance to BWGP Finals

Amidst an oncoming typhoon on Sunday, Masakazu Imanari and Hideo Tokoro punched their tickets to the finals of the Dream bantamweight grand prix.

The Ashikan Judan wrenched out a heel hook on WEC veteran Kenji Osawa 58 seconds into round two after a frustrating opening ten minute frame, where Osawa tried to land low kicks and body punches, only to have Imanari crumple beneath the strikes to reach for his legs or fish from submissions in guard. Sticking to this gameplan naturally gave Imanari plenty of time to fish for and secure submission attempts.

Earlier in the quarter-final matchups, Imanari was less successful with submissions in a listless bout against ZST bantamweight champion Keisuke Fujiwara. In typical Imanari fashion, he lunged with side and flying kicks from outside as Fujiwara countered with single punches and low kicks. Imanari took the bout by unanimous decision.

Before facing Imanari, Osawa put former Deep featherweight champion Takafumi Otsuka through his paces on the feet, jabbing and rib-roasting to take the split decision.

On the other side of the bracket, K-1 Hero's veteran Hideo Tokoro edged Atsushi Yamamoto, who returned to the ring after a one and a half year layoff. After a conservative first round, Tokoro asserted himself in the second with hard low kicks and right hands. Yamamoto drove for takedowns and snapped Tokoro's head with sharp jabs, but only impressed judge Masanori Ohashi, while judges Kaoru Todori and Akira Shoji sided with Tokoro.

To get to the semi-finals, Yamamoto plowed through late replacement Yusaku Nakamura, who dropped him three times with clobbering punches in the early goings. The knockdowns forced Yamamoto take the Osakan down and batter him until the TKO stop at 8:43.

Alternately, Tokoro and Yoshiro Maeda were putting forth the fight of the night until it was marred by a late low blow. Both men scrapped with reckless abandon until an errant kick to the groin sidelined the WEC veteran. A limping Maeda chose to continue, but recoiled in pain off of a Tokoro takedown when the bout resumed. Maeda's corner immediately threw in the towel 43 seconds into round two to save him further anguish.

Though losing the semis, Osawa and Yamamoto will vie for third place in the Japan bantamweight tournament at July 16's Dream 17 at Ariake Coliseum, alongside finalists Imanari and Tokoro. The winner of the third place matchup will also advance to the Dream world bantamweight tourney later this year.

Hansen Takes Split; Shooto Tops Deep

Former Dream lightweight champion Joachim Hansen scraped by with a split decision over Mitsuhiro Ishida in an interesting case study in Dream-style judging.

Early in the fight, Ishida surprised by rocking his fellow southpaw with a blistering left straight, but couldn’t capitalize before the Norwegian recovered. Ishida thus reverted to his usual stifling takedowns and top control, to which Hansen responded with a steady stream of punches from bottom, as well as armbar and triangle attempts. Impressing judges Ohashi and Shoji with this offense from the ground, Hansen took the split decision, while a dissenting Hikaru Adachi voted in favor of Ishida.

Elsewhere, Katsunori Kikuno put forth a curious performance against Daisuke Nakamura, winning mostly on the strength of his chin and Nakamura's passivity from the bottom. Dispensing with his trademark “zombie stance” and crescent kick, mechanically marched forward with hands down, throwing punches. Nakamura responded with flicking jabs and knees, but Kikuno’s forward momentum apparently won out with judges Adachi, Ohashi, and Shoji.

In the Shooto versus Deep showdown, former Shooto 143-pound champion Takeshi Inoue took a contentious stoppage win over Koichiro Matsumoto. In typical fashion, “Lion” started slow and was rocked by the Deep featherweight champ early. He later rebounded with a big counter right cross to drop Matsumoto, prompting referee Shimada to jump in for a premature stop at 6:51. A still conscious Matsumoto protested the call immediately after.

In an entertaining but also unexpected battle of reversals, UFC veteran Caol Uno outgrappled Shooto wild-child "Wicky" Akiyo Nishiura to a unanimous decision victory. While Nishiura’s much publicized takedown defense training at Urijah Faber-led Team Alpha Male stopped Uno's takedowns, he could not stop the savvy vet from instantly transitioning to his back. With 15 minutes pasted on “Wicky’s” back, Uno took the decision on judges Todori, Ohashi, and Shoji’s cards.

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