UFC 119 shapes up to be a good one tonight. The card isn't filled with superstars but it appears to possess some nice matchmaking by Joe Silva. It'll have to deliver on a high level to match last night's MMA event in Japan. DREAM 16 had plenty of pomp and circumstance and some nasty finishes.
The card was highlighted by Jason Miller's easy win over Kazushi Sakuraba. The 41-year-old legend was overmatched from the get-go. Overpowered early in the striking game, Sakuraba (26-14-2) ended up on the mat when he attempted a takedown (5:12 mark). Sakuraba posed a short threat trying to work a submission on a Miller leg but the American flattened him out and eventually pushed him to his back. That's where Miller landed two of the cleanest punches to the face you'll ever see. The stunned Sakuraba was an easy mark for an arm-triangle choke. Miller slapped it on and Sakuraba tapped quickly at 2:09 of the first. Having beaten one of his idols, Miller was emotional in the ring. HDNet analyst Frank Trigg wasn't caught up by the moment. He suggested that Sakuraba had no business being in there with a 29-year-old who's in the top 15 at middleweight and that the veteran needs to think about walking away from the ring with his health intact.
Shinya Aoki wasn't spectacular but he did control Marcus Aurelio for 15 minutes on the ground. He couldn't finish the fight but the ease with which he locked up Aurelio, a good Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner, was impressive. The 27-year-old Aoki got win No. 25 of his career via unanimous decision.
Before the fight card, there were rumors of a big Aoki announcement. Turns out it had nothing to with his work in the ring but everything to do with some work on the homefront. During the opening montage video, Aoki announced that his wife is pregnant. There are still persistent rumors that Aoki will face either Gilbert Melendez or Nick Diaz around New Year's in Japan. Aoki was wearing a "Diaz t-shirt" before and after his fight.
Gegard Mousasi was impressive in the main event but his competition was less than stellar. Tatsuya Mizuno was thrown to the mat like a ragdoll and then got dominated badly. After getting beat upon for three minutes in the first, Mizuno finally gave his back and tapped on a choke that had only been on for about 1.5 seconds. With the win at 6:10 of the first, the 25-year-old Mousasi is now 30-3-1 and has to be looking for a rematch against Muhammed Lawal. Mousasi showed awful takedown defense in losing the first fight back in April.
Satoshi Ishii (2-1) got his second win but the fight was a mixed bag. He can grapple and certainly understands controlling an opponent on the ground but he didn't do a whole lot of damage while riding the much smaller Ikuhisa Minowa (46-31-8). He weighed 235 for this fight but after watching him do minimal damage it's hard to see Ishii surviving as a top level heavyweight down the road.
The most impressive wins of the night came from Michihiro Omigawa, Joachim Hansen and Hiroyuki Takaya.
Omigawa ran roughshod over Cole Escovedo. The American came out with the some hard kicks but was taken down easily and then reversed. But Escovedo got sloppy on top and left his right arm exposed. Omigawa (12-8-1) pulled off a nifty inverted armbar and appeared to have damaged Escovedo's elbow before he submitted.
Hansen was in a must-win situation. Hideo Tokoro, just four wins above .500 in 49 fights was made to order. The Norwegian scored a takedown and fell into mount. He eventually stood above Tokoro and tried to rain down some shots. In a second mount situation Hansen was so far up Tokoro's body that he was able to easily latch on a top-side triangle. Seconds later, he dropped to his side. Tokoro lifted Hansen off the mat and tried to slam his way out of the hold but it only made it tighter (pictured above). The Japanese veteran had to tap at 2:48 of round 1. Hansen (20-10-1) gets his first win since July of 2008.
Chase Beebe was once the WEC bantamweight champ but that was a different era. The world has caught and passed the Iowan. With a wrestling background, his stand-up game hasn't caught up, especially on the defensive side. Takaya (pictured on left punching) came straight forward and threw with reckless abandon. Beebe's night closed quickly when a left hook dropped him and Takaya got off six more punches on the ground to post the win at 1:45 of the first.
Including his WEC title fight loss to Miguel Torres, Beebe is just 2-6 in 2008-10.
DREAM 16 results:
Gegard Mousasi def. Tatsuya Mizuno via submission (rear naked choke) at 6:10 of Round 1.
Jason Miller def. Kazushi Sakuraba via submission (arm triangle choke) at 2:09 of Round 1.
Shinya Aoki def. Marcus Aurelio via unanimous decision.
Satoshi Ishii def. Ikuhisa Minowa via unanimous decision.
Hiroyuki Takaya def. Chase Beebe via knockout (punches) at 1:45 of Round 1.
Michihiro Omigawa def. Cole Escovedo via submission (inverted armbar) at 2:30 of Round 1.
Joachim Hansen def. Hideo Tokoro via submission (triangle choke) at 2:48 of Round 1.
Kazuyuki Miyata def. Takeshi Inoue via unanimous decision.
Mitsuhiro Ishida def. Akiyo Nishiura via split decision.
Yusuke Kawaguchi def. James Thompson via split decision.
There was also "controversy" before the fight card. The HDNet announce team of Trigg and Michael Schiavello got a little physical while donning Lucha Libre-style masks. "The Voice" grabbed Trigg's hanky and all hell broke loose (video)