Rumors have been sweeping the Internet in recent days pointing to a welterweight affiliated with the Xtreme Couture camp in Las Vegas as being involved in negotiations to fight WAMMA lightweight champion Shinya Aoki during the first round of DREAM’s upcoming welterweight tournament.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com has confirmed through its sources that the fighter in question is former WEC and UFC veteran John Alessio. However, a source cautioned that a deal to bring Alessio into the tournament fold has not been finalized and his chances of signing and fighting Aoki were appraised as being “50/50.”
Aoki, 19-3, primarily competes at lightweight. He won the then-vacant WAMMA lightweight title this past New Year’s Eve during FEG’s “Dynamite!!” event after he submitted Eddie Alvarez with a heel hook at 1:32 of round 2. The six year veteran is widely regarded as the number two lightweight fighter in the world and holds notable victories in his career over Akira Kikuchi, Joachim Hansen, Caol Uno, and Gesias Calvancante.
Alessio is 24-12 and has been idle since losing to Paul Daley this past December during a Maximum Fighting Championships event. Daley was able to TKO Alessio courtesy of punches at 2:18 of round 2. Having competed since 1998, Alessio holds notable wins over Thomas Denny, Chris Brennan, Pete Spratt, and Gideon Ray.
The Grand Prix, which is scheduled to begin at DREAM.8 on April 5 in Japan, is expected to include a total of 16 fighters. In addition to Aoki, Hayato Sakurai has also been confirmed for the tournament field.