Baroni-Sakurai, Kitaoka-Brooks Among DREAM.18 Additions
Fight Network Staff / December 12, 2012 - 11:44am
TOKYO, Japan (Dec. 11, 2012) - Three top Japanese Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) talents were today officially confirmed as participating in DREAM.18, which takes place New Year's Eve at the Saitama Super Arena near Tokyo.
DREAM.18 will be broadcast LIVE on Fight Network in Canada at 2 a.m. ET.
Hayato 'Mach' Sakurai (38-12-2), Hiroyuki Takaya (17-9-1) and Satoru Kitaoka (30-11-9) have signed bout agreements, and each will face international opposition on the stacked Dec. 31 card. Sakurai faces the 'New York Bad Ass' Phil Baroni (15-15) in a welterweight (170 pounds/77 kilograms) matchup, Takaya faces standout featherweight (145 pounds/66 kilograms) champion Georgi Karakhanyan (19-3-1) and Kitaoka faces undefeated rising star Will 'Ill Will' Brooks (7-0) in a lightweight (155 pounds/70 kilograms) battle.
"These three fighters embody Japan's distinguished warrior tradition. Each one of them has proven himself time and again in the fighting rings of Tokyo and around the world but, Saitama Super Arena is their home, and we are proud to announce their participation in the New Year's Eve DREAM 18 event," says Glory Sports International CEO Marcus Luer.
"Phil Baroni needs no introduction to most fight fans, being one of the biggest characters in the sport. He always comes ready for war and puts on a great show in the process. In Karakhanyan, you have an outstanding talent who is going to achieve great things in his career, while Brooks is on an impressive undefeated run and cannot wait for this chance to test himself on the world stage."
Sakurai is one of the best fighters that Japan has ever produced, with an extensive record of victories both in MMA and in ADCC submission wrestling. He has fought for PRIDE FC, the UFC, Shooto and DREAM. Sakurai was once consistently ranked among the world's top pound-for-pound fighters and that is reflected in his multiple wins over top names such as Shinya Aoki, Frank Trigg and Jens Pulver. In 2001 Sakurai took Anderson Silva, current UFC middleweight champion, to a decision and he almost went the distance with Matt Hughes in a fight for the UFC welterweight championship.
Baroni is one of the most colorful characters ever to emerge from the American MMA scene. A notorious trash talker, Baroni is flamboyant both in and out of the ring and has a physique that reflects his past as a bodybuilding champion. He has fought for UFC, PRIDE FC and Strikeforce. His victories include those over Ryo Chonan and Ikihusa Minowa.
Takaya won the DREAM featherweight championship on New Year's Eve in 2010 after beating world No. 2 ranked Bibiano Fernandes. That fight took place at the Saitama Super Arena and Takaya, a Strikeforce, Shooto and WEC veteran, will receive a hero's welcome at DREAM 18. He was runner-up in the DREAM 2009 Featherweight Grand Prix and holds wins over Joachim Hansen and 'Lion' Takeshi Inoue.
Karakhanyan has fought for Bellator FC and King of the Cage. He is currently the featherweight champion of Tachi Palace Fights, an American organization known for the strength of its lighter-weight fighter roster. Of Armenian parentage but born and raised in Moscow, Russia, committed vegetarian Karakhanyan was once a professional soccer player with Spartak Moscow and the San Diego Nomads.
His father was a martial arts expert and Karakhanyan trained intensively as a child, leading him to take up MMA in 2006. Among his victories are wins over WEC and DREAM veteran Micah Miller and a first-round KO of the Strikeforce veteran Bao Quach.
Kitaoka started his career as a welterweight but dropped to lightweight in 2008. He has fought for Pancrase, Sengoku, DREAM and DEEP over the course of a distinguished twelve-year career. A noted submission grappler, he has dominated Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments in both his own weight category and the open-weight category. In MMA, he has submitted UFC superstar Carlos Condit and former PRIDE FC champion Takanori Gomi.
Brooks comes from the American Mid-West and trains at the Midwest Training Center with WEC veteran Chase Beebe and the UFC and Bellator FC veteran Brian Gassaway. He brings a perfect professional record of seven fights and seven wins into the ring with him. Of his seven wins, six have been inside the distance with four submissions and two knockouts. Coming from the heartlands of America's wrestling scene, Brooks has a solid takedown game and is extremely fit. He has fought and won twice in 2012.
In other DREAM 18 action, former DREAM lightweight champion Shinya Aoki (31-6) will face battle-tested wrestling specialist Antonio McKee (28-4-2). Heavy hitters Melvin Manhoef (26-9-1, 1 NC) and Denis Kang (35-15-2, 2 NC) will face off at middleweight (185 pounds/84 kilograms) and former DREAM bantamweight (135 pounds/61 kilograms) champion Bibiano Fernandes (12-3) will square off with Yoshiro Maeda (30-11-2) in a 139-pound/61-kilogram catchweight contest.
The 'GSI presents DREAM 18 and GLORY 4 Tokyo - New Year's Eve Special' double-header event will commence at 4 p.m. JST with the DREAM 18 card and continue with the GLORY 4 Tokyo - Heavyweight Grand Slam, a one-night, 16-man, single-elimination tournament featuring the world's top heavyweight stand-up fighters, including Semmy Schilt (39-6, 18 KO's), Gokhan Saki (77-15, 53 KO's), Daniel Ghita (44-7, 34 KO's), Remy Bonjasky (77-14, 40 KO's), Peter Aerts (104-30-1, 78 KO's), Errol Zimmerman (76-16-1, 41 KO's), Anderson 'Braddock' Silva (32-8-1, 22 KO's) and Sergei Kharitonov (22-7, 12 KO's).
The winner of the heavyweight tournament will take home a Grand Prize of $400,000, and a total of $600,000 in prize money will be awarded to tournament participants.
For more information, visit www.gloryworldseries.com.
Japan's premier MMA organisation, DREAM has staged 23 top-class events in the course of its four-year history. Fighters that have stepped into the DREAM ring include Fedor Emelianenko, Gegard Mousasi, Shinya Aoki, Joachim Hansen, Melvin Manhoef, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Eddie Alvarez, Todd Duffee, Gesias Calvancante, Marius Zaromskis.
The GLORY World Series (www.gloryworldseries.com) is the world's premier kickboxing, or stand-up fighting league, staging events across the globe and offering up to $1,000,000 in prize money to the winners of 16-man 'Grand Prix' tournaments, which are open to only the best fighters in each weight class. The fight series also includes 8-man tournaments and events with traditional, single bouts.
With television deals spanning every continent, plus a groundbreaking online video streaming system and the world's largest online martial arts library, GLORY is one of the world's most widely-broadcast sporting organizations.
Owned and operated by Glory Sports International (GSI), the organization has offices in Holland, the UK, Tokyo, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Its personnel includes a diverse mix of award-winning hedge-fund and private equity investors; principals from pioneering sports marketing agency Total Sport Asia; and senior level executives from several leading sports franchises, including WWE, FIFA, Golden Glory, Champions League and It's Showtime.