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Shinya Aoki to face Hayato “Mach” Sakurai in opening round of DREAM welterweight grand prix

After defeating David Gardner at DREAM 7 on March 8, it appears as though popular Japanese fighter Shinya Aoki is wasting no time in returning to action. is reporting that in the opening round of the DREAM welterweight grand prix, Aoki will face fellow Top 10 fighter Hayato “Mach” Sakurai at the upcoming DREAM 8 show on April 5 at the Nippon Gaishi Hall in Nagoya, Japan.

Since DREAM started up in March of 2008, Aoki has gone 6-1-1 with the company including wins over Gesias “JZ” Calvancante, Caol Uno, and Eddie Alvarez. Aoki is now widely regarded as the #1 lightweight fighter in the world, but is no stranger to competition in the welterweight division.

Sakurai has a pretty impressive record with DREAM as well going 3-0 with the company with wins over Hidetaka Monma, Kuniyoshi Hironaka, and Katsuyori Shibata. His last loss came at the hands of the UFC’s David Baron who defeated Sakurai at a Shooto show back in May of 2008 with a guillotine choke in the first round.

This will mark the second meeting between Sakurai and Aoki. Aoki defeated Sakurai via unanimous-decision at a Shooto show back in August of 2005.

  • kidneybeans says:

    I really thought they would keep these two apart at least for the first round. Should be a good fight though and I’m interested to see who they get to fill out the rest of the tournament.

  • Sergio Hernandez says:

    This is similar to what PRIDE did with their LW GP, matching up Gomi and Kawajiri in the first round.

    Might as well give fans they want right off the bat rather than risking either fighter losing and missing out on it, right?

    I can’t picture Aoki being able to submit Mach. Yes, Sakurai has been caught in the past but I think his stand-up and TD defense are enough to win him a decision.


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