With the lightweight Grand Prix completed and a bright new year ahead DREAM has announced the participants for its upcoming featherweight Grand Prix.
The first round is scheduled to take place at Dream 7 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan on March 7. The first round will consist of matches that will feature Atsushi Yamamoto, Micah Miller, Bibiano Fernandes, Hideo Tokoro, Daiki “D.J. Taiki” Hata, Chase Beebe, Hiroyuki Takaya, Joe Warren, Shoji Maruyama, Kim Jong Won, Takafumi Otsuka, Wicky Akiyo, and Masakazu Imanari.
Yamamoto is 12-5 with nine of his victories going the distance. His most recent fight came during Dream 6 as he defeated Tokoro. Yamamoto is a veteran of Shooto, Pancrase and K-1 organizations.
Miller is the younger brother of UFC veteran Cole Miller and trains with the renowned America Top Team. He is 10-2 with six of his victories coming by way of submission. He has four career fights in the WEC going 2-2 with wins over Chance Farrar and Jesse Moreng while losing to Cub Swanson and Josh Grispi.
Fernandes sports a 3-2 record with his last fight was taking place for Raw Combat, where he defeated Len Tam. Fernandes’ claim to fame is the fact that he has lost to both Urijah Faber as well as Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto.
Tokoro is 21-15 throughout his career which started in 2001. He is a veteran of K-1 and has fought in DREAM three times sporting a 2-1 record. He lost to fellow grand prix participant Atsushi Yamamoto at Dream 6. He holds a decision victory over Royler Gracie and fought to a draw with Royce Gracie at a K-1 New Year’s Eve show in 2005.
Having fought for Pancase for the better part of his carrer, Hata is 9-5 with all five losses coming by decision. His biggest victory to date was against Yoshiro Maeda back in 2006.
A former WEC bantamweight champion, Beebe is on a two fight losing streak with losses to the man who defeated him for the title, Miguel Torres, as well as Will Riberio. Ten of Beebe’s 12 victories have come by way of submission.
Recently dropped by the WEC after going 0-2, Takaya is now 9-6 in his career following losses to Swanson and current number one WEC featherweight title contender Leonard Garcia. The majority of Takaya’s fights have taken place in K-1 and Shooto. He has also faced and lost to Gesias Calvancante back in 2006.
Warren is a former back-to-back winner at the World Championships in Greco-Roman wrestling. Thought to be a shoe-in to represent the U.S. during the ’08 Olympic Games in Beijing, Warren never got the shot after he was suspended for two years following the Senior World Team Trials in 2007 after he tested positive for THC.
Imanari has fought the bulk of his career for Deep and is 15-6. He is a former Cage Rage champion and is a noted submission fighter earning 11 of his victories by forcing his opponent to tap out. His notable victories include former UFC fighter Jorge Gurgel and current WEC featherweight champion Mike Thomas Brown. He has also fought and lost to Joachim Hansen, Marcus Aurelio and Dokonjonsuke Mishima.
A veteran of Pancrase, Maruyama is 6-4 with five wins coming by way of knockout. His biggest opponent to date has been WEC prospect Jose Aldo, whom he lost a unanimous decision to in 2007.
The 32-year old Wong is a former Olympic Judoka hailing from South Korera who will be making his professional MMA debut during the featherweight Grand Prix.
A veteran of the DEEP organization, Otsuka is 8-3 in his career with three victories coming by way of knockout, three wins by decision and two wins by submission. He fought and lost to UFC lightweight competitor Rafael dos Anjos back in 2008.
A nine fight veteran of the Shooto organization, Nishiura is 9-3 in his career with the majority of his wins coming by decision. Having last fought in December he suffered a loss at Cage Force 9 to Yuji Hoshino.
The Grand Prix’s second round is scheduled for May at Dream 9 but a location has yet to be announced. The finals are tentatively scheduled for Dream 11 in September at the Saitama Super Arena.
At this point there is no clear cut favorite and this tournament should be very interesting. DREAM has also scheduled a welterweight Grand Prix which is set to begin in April at Dream 8.