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DREAM Plan for 2009

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After the Dynamite!! show Keiichi Sasahara, the producer of DREAM, told the reporters about the DREAM 2009 schedule.

He made it official that DREAM will be hosting a featherweight and welterweight tournament. (BTW – FEG head Sadaharu Tanikawa claimed "buying out UFC" is his plan for this year)

In terms of a schedule it is going to be similar to the two tournaments held last year.

The featherweight tournament will kick off in March. It is going to be a 16-man tournament and eight of them are going to be Japanese fighters. Obviously Norifumi KID Yamamoto, Atsushi Yamamoto, and Masakazu Imanari are top candidates for this tournament. At the closing ceremony of Dynamite!!, the MC called in fighters like Wicky Akiyo, Takeshi Mizugaki, and Antonio Carlvalho to the ring, but it doesn’t mean they are confirmed for the tournament.

The competitor of DREAM in the Japanese market, SENGOKU by World Victory Road, is also planning on doing a 16-man featherweight tournament but one unrevealed issue here is the contract weight for these tournaments. Our sources have confirmed that although SENGOKU’s featherweight is going to be at 65 kg (143 lbs) & Under, DREAM is considering of setting their featherweight division at 61 kg (134 lbs) & Under which happens to be a perfect weight class for Norifumi KID Yamamoto.

The welterweight tournament will begin in May, and just like the middleweight tournament held last year it will finish in the fall and the winner will be crowned as a DREAM champion.

For this weight class, DREAM is hoping to see Hayato Mach Sakurai and Shinya Aoki competing. Its a bit surprising to find out that DREAM actually wants Aoki to move up a weight class after beating Eddie Alvarez considering he will, more than likely, rank second in the world at the lightweight category in the very near future.

At this point Aoki maybe the only Japanese star DREAM has in its own possession that can be considered as real threat to the world. After that stellar performance against Alvarez on New Year’s Eve, Aoki’s stock is up but DREAM wants Aoki to take the risk fighting bigger fighters. This probably means that, this year, not much is going to happen at the lightweight category, and besides Sakurai, DREAM can not think of any other Japanese fighters at welterweight that can compete against the world’s top fighters. Asking Aoki to move up now maybe is a sign of desperation, so to speak, that DREAM is really struggling to come up with something profound, that would give an impact to the fans. After Dynamite!! scoring a low TV rating on New Year’s Eve, this year DREAM needs something more than tournaments so it is going to be very interesting for the next couple of months to see what DREAM can really come up with for this year.

Report by Shu Hirata (www.boutreviewusa.com)
Photo by Yoshinori Ihara (www.boutreview.com)

PIC: The banner appeared at the end of Dynamite!! show said "Please love Kakutougi in 2009 as well". Can FEG / DREAM come up with impressive tournaments that would bring back the heat PRIDE once created among the general public?

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