As of this writing, the inaugural event of Dream, the new MMA organization from Japan, should have already finished. Last year saw the fall of what many people outside of North America (and even in North America!) consider the best MMA organization of them all: Pride Fighting Championships. Due to a yakuza scandal that cost Pride its TV deal with Fuji TV, the organization continued to lose money until its owner, the oft maligned Nobuyuki Sakakibara, sold Pride to its main competitor the UFC under Zuffa and Dana White. Zuffa then dismantled Pride and in its rift was a void in Japanese MMA that would not be filled until last NYE when Yarrenoka was held in the Saitama super arena as a one-time event by former Pride staffers.
However, as a one-time event, Yarrenoka was not destined for longevity. It is then that we hearken to the words spoken by FEG head Sadaharu Tanikawa last October 5, when he said that, “To protect the Japanese Kakutougi world, all fighters must unite!” and today was the realization of that ideal. FEG, the parent company behind the vastly popular K1 kickboxing organization, had started an MMA branch of K1 under the monniker K1 Heroes. It was Tanikawa’s attempt to create a Pride-like organization to rival the original PrideFC. It was not as well-received as Pride, but did fairly well in its own right especially in the lower weight classes.
As MMA fans mostly directed their attention to NA after the fall of Pride, Tanikawa worked behind the scenes and, the result was Dream, with its first event, Heiwa Dream, held today 3/15/08 3:00pm Japanese time. K1 Heroes had a strong stable of lightweight fighters, so it made sense that Dream would start off its operations with a Lightweight Grand Prix to determine the strongest LW in Japan, and possibly the world if MMA rankings are to be believed — the UFC, notorious for neglecting its LW division, can arguably be said to not have the same caliber of athletes in general as the Japanese orgs.
The event should be over by now but I will have to wait until I can get a hold of the fights from the internet somehow. The event was only broadcast on TBS (a Japanese channel) and XTM (a Korean channel). I do not have either on cable so I will be relying on the internet for a source to these fights, I should be able to watch them sometime tomorrow.
At that time, I will write another entry with my thoughts on the event.