Japan’s Dream promotion was resurrected for a mega event from the Saitama Super Arena on New Year’s Eve that coincided with GLORY’s fourth event. The eight-fight MMA card preceded the upstart promotion’s 16-man heavyweight kickboxing tournament.

After a year’s hiatus, all of the Japanese promotion’s champions were brought back for its 18th event which streamed live via the GLORY website. Lightweight champion Shinya Aoki, featherweight kingpin Hiroyuki Takaya and bantamweight title holder Bibiano Fernandes were the backbone of the night’s action. The event will play again in the United States on Tuesday, Jan. 1 on CBS Sports Network.

In addition to the champions, a number of superstars from the Land of the Rising Sun graced the card, including Tatsuya Kawajiri, Michihiro Omigawa and Hayato Sakurai.

Kawajiri grinds out Omigawa

Featherweight Tatsuya Kawajiri picked up his fifth straight win—fourth in his new weight class—with a lopsided decision over UFC veteran Michihiro Omigawa.

“Crusher” never let Omigawa generate any offense over the course of the three-round affair. He scored with a double-leg takedown just seconds into the fight and set the tone of the remainder of the fight. The veteran rained hammerfists from the half guard and prevented Omigawa from getting back to his feet.

In the second and third rounds, Kawajiri went for his signature submission, the arm-triangle choke. Omigawa was saved by the bell in the second stanza as Kawajiri looked to have locked it in. It was more of the same in the third round as Kawajiri moved to mount and again attacked the neck of Omigawa.

There was no doubt who had won when the final bell sounded and the judges awarded Kawajiri the decision for his dominant performance.

Karakhanyan upends Takaya

Former Bellator and Tachi Palace combatant Georgi Karakhanyan played spoiler by edging featherweight champion Hiroyuki Takaya by decision in a non-title affair.

Karakhanyan was aggressive early, using his reach to keep Takaya at bay. The Armenian-American closed the distance and delivered multiple knee strikes from the clinch before scoring a takedown late in the opening round.

In the second round, Karakhanyan went to work in the clinch yet again. He peppered the body of Takaya, but Takaya was able to score a takedown late and it appeared as if the momentum would swing toward the Japanese fighter.

Karakhanyan erased any doubt of who deserved the fight in the final round as he pushed the pace and scored another takedown. He briefly gained the mount, but Takaya proved his durability in lasting to the final bell.

Surprisingly, one of the judges gave the fight to Takaya, but the other two rewarded Karakhanyan for his efforts.

Aoki stops McKee with big right hand

Lightweight champion Shinya Aoki picked up a rare win via strikes, stopping UFC veteran Antonio McKee in the second round.

Aoki and McKee engaged in a grappling match in the first round, with each securing takedowns. Aoki threatened with an arm-triangle from the top and looked for an armbar from his back, but McKee was able to defend the submission attempts.

In the second frame, Aoki delivered a right hand flush with the left eye of McKee that forced the American to submit in obvious pain.

Fernandes chokes out Maeda

Dream bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes wasted little time showcasing his superior ground game against Deep champion Yoshiro Maeda.

Fernandes scored with a takedown less than a minute into the fight and took Maeda’s back with ease. He looked for a rear-naked choke, but the WEC veteran Maeda powered out of it and into Fernandes’ guard. The Brazilian showed how he earned the nickname “Flash” as he effortlessly trapped Maeda in a triangle choke and put the Japanese fighter to sleep less than two minutes into the contest.

Manhoef destroys Kang

Striking specialist Melvin Manhoef needed less than a minute to demolish fellow middleweight Denis Kang with a vicious knee to the body.

Manhoef was patient early, looking for an opening. When Kang opted to trade with dangerous striker, Manhoef delivered a perfectly-placed knee to Kang’s midsection that sent him crashing to the mat face first.

The win marked the 25th knockout victory of the Dutchman’s career.

Sakurai outworks Baroni

In a clash of battle-tested veterans, Japan’s Hayato Sakurai bested Phil Baroni by decision.

The pair came out swinging, but quickly clinched against the ropes. Sakurai pressed the action, but it was Baroni that secured the fight’s first takedown. Once on the mat, it was Sakurai who delivered the most offense and Baroni could not match his output.

Sakurai scored with a hip toss early in round two and quickly moved the mount. Baroni didn’t panic and quickly scrambled to gain the top position. Again, Baroni struggled to mount much offense from the position.

Both fighters appeared winded in the final stanza, but Sakurai continued to be the aggressor. A cut opened on Baroni’s head from a knee, but the American was able to bring the fight to the ground halfway through the round. Sakurai regained his feet and peppered an exhausted Baroni in the final minute, convincing the judges to hand him the victory.

Coenen too much for Muxlow

Former Strikeforce champion Marloes Coenen outclassed Australia’s Fiona Muxlow en route to a first-round armbar victory.

Coenen opened the fight throwing outside leg kicks and looking for her right cross. When Muxlow looked to close the distance, Coenen attacked with a barrage of knees from the clinch and forced Muxlow to the ground. Muxlow looked to pull guard, but Coenen landed in mount. Muxlow was able to scramble to the top position, but she fell right into Coenen’s dangerous guard. Coenen alternated armbar and triangle attacks before finally coaxing a tap from Muxlow via armbar at the 3:31 mark.

Brooks batters Kitaoka

American lightweight Will Brooks kept his undefeated record intact with an upset win over submission ace Satoru Kitaoka.

Brooks showed little regard for the ground game of the former Sengoku champion, as he willingly entered the guard of the veteran. Kitaoka repeatedly looked for his patented heel hook, but Brooks answered with heavy shots. The American landed at will on the feet in the opening frame, scoring with a massive suplex, but it was the second frame where he really poured it on.

As Kitaoka desperately tried for another leg lock, Brooks delivered multiple heel strikes to the face of his opponent to force him to abandon the submission attempt. Once free, Brooks smelled blood and dropped heavy shots until the referee was forced to intervene.

FULL RESULTS
Tatsuya Kawajiri def. Michihiro Omigawa by unanimous decision
Georgi Karakhanyan def. Hiroyuki Takaya by split decision
Shinya Aoki def. Antonio McKee by submission (strikes). Round 2, 0:24
Bibiano Fernandes def. Yoshiro Maeda by technical submission (triangle choke). Round 1, 1:46
Melvin Manhoef def. Denis Kang by knockout (knee to the body). Round 1, 0:50
Hayato Sakurai def. Phil Baroni by unanimous decision
Marloes Coenen def. Fiona Muxlow by submission (armbar). Round 1, 3:29
Will Brooks def. Satoru Kitaoka by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 3:46

Photo: Tatsuya Kawajiri (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

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