Dream 11 Quick Hits: Fernandes, Aoki Take Belts

By Nicholas Bailey (nbailey@mmaratings.net)

Dream 11 was a mixed bag. The Cinderella Story of the tournament, Joe Warren, got handled in controversial fashion, and the impressively tactical and slick finish of Shinya Aoki lost some of its shine due to his in-ring theatrics, but overall it was a solid event.

My Apologies, Kazuyuki Miyata

In my preview, I was very down on Miyata’s consistency and focus, and he (mostly) proved me wrong, fighting a tight, controlled fight against Daiki Hata, although he did nearly drive himself directly into a guillotine and out of the fight. For someone that tortures his body the way Miyata does (and no, I’m not talking about the spray tan) fighting hard in the last five minutes must be very hard, so kudos to the victory.

Two Victories for the Flash

First of all, I think a referee that restarts a fight from back mount should be shot. That is just ludicrous from a sporting perspective. The reason Takaya stalls and the match slows down is that he knows he’s in a terrible position and that if he slows the fight down he’ll get a break, possibly even avoiding a yellow card for stalling. If he knows that the only way he gets out of that position is if he gets out himself, you’d see more action from him.

As many tournament finals are, this fight was less about the relative skills of the fighters and more about a deep gut-check. There were times where you could see Fernandes falter mentally, only to re-gird himself for combat and wade in yet again. It wasn’t the most technical display, but it was a well-contested fight and a bit more than a simple brawl. Takaya has a gameness that definitely deserves the “Streetfight Bancho” moniker, and, despite the loss, he’s raised his stature in the sport with this performance. This writer had no problem with the decision, as it seemed that Bibiano’s striking was cleaner and more effective on the whole, and he certainly did better with his takedowns and grappling than Takaya fared, although it was a close, competitive fight.

Bibiano’s quick defeat of Joe Warren seems to currently be unduly clouded with controversy over what may or may not be a phantom tap. I think that Joe has nobody but himself to blame here, as him posturing up to lean on a crossface got him caught with armbars in his previous two fights, so doing the same thing against an even better grappler is only going to bring him that much closer to a finish. Furthermore, there was at the very least a ‘fluttering’ of the hand in question, which both the referee and Bibiano Fernandes took as a tap. This is compounded by the fact that Joe Warren, while an upstanding and virtuous individual, is such an intense competitor that he is exactly the type of person that would try to get away with a fake tap or claiming not to tap. After all, if you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying.

Shinya Aoki A Contrast To Hansen

Joachim Hansen is a passionate fighter with big KO power and an iron jaw, but Aoki’s bookish, careful study protected his own vulnerabilities and let him control the pace of the fight and execute a very slick finish. Hansen’s wild strikes and devil-may-care footwork let Aoki get inside and underneath repeatedly to put him on his back, where Aoki slowed down his own often-frenetic submission offense to maintain position and protect himself. The japanese grappler had limited success in the first, losing the round on judge Matt Hume’s card at least, but it paid off in the second when he was able to absolutely checkmate Hansen, taking mount and setting up a chain of events that exploited Hansen’s own aggressive nature to roll him off his feet as he tried to knee, and into a perfect Armbar. A well-deserved and well fought fight.

Aoki, unfortunately, also solidified his reputation for theatrics in a very poor acting job after a typical Hansen flailing foul. Aoki was already known for either being a big wimp for a pro fighter, very fragile, or someone that will play to the judges to frustrate his opponent and gain advantages. Aside from the JZ Calvancante no contest, Aoki has two previous victories by opponents being disqualified after low blows, so it certainly seemed like he was testing those waters again. DREAM should make sure their champion leaves such foolishness behind him and represents the organization in a straight-and-narrow manner.

By All Means, Get That Paper, But Please Come to Fight

King Mo and the rest of Team Thirsty may be all about getting paid, but they come to fight. A freakshow fight is one thing, but a fight where a freak isn’t even prepared to fight and doesn’t put on any kind of show? That’s pretty pathetic. Sapp is nothing more than a name, an expensive catering bill, and a giant money hole these days, failing to even attempt to be a beast, and Rubin Williams didn’t see fit to even throw a punch. What’s the point? I don’t think fans get anything out of this and these guys don’t show up for free. At least Melchor Barracuda tried to throw down. If Sokoudjou vs. Minowa actually happens, it’s going to be a disgusting mauling, but they’re going to engage in an actual fight where Minowa will truly attempt to gain victory.

What Do You Think of This Fight/Event?