After fighting for Japan, DREAM gets back on schedule tonight at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan with DREAM.17.

In the main event, Shinya Aoki proved why he’s one of the best submission grapplers in the world by quickly taking down striker Rob McCullough, dominating him on the ground, and finally submitting him with a rear naked choke with just seconds remaining in the first round. The victory marked Aoki’s sixth straight win with five coming by submission.

In sadder results, Kazushi Sakuraba was finished by an Arm Triangle Choke in his bout against Yan Cabral, the second time he’s been tapped in three fights, marking his fourth straight loss overall. The 42-year-old legend looked every bit of his age and didn’t mount much offense against his younger opponent. Sakuraba wasn’t the only Japanese hero finished though, as Caol Uno fell victim to a head kick KO courtesy of Takeshi Inoue.

Read below for full results:


Ikuhisa Minowa vs. Baru Harn

Fight Recap: Minowa almost immediately got a takedown and then dominated on top for the majority of the round. Harn managed to avoid most of the submission attempts, despite being on his back the entire round, but Minowa finally locked up a scarf hold armlock in the final minute to force the tap out. Typical Minowa vs. big guy with no ground game fight.

Result: Ikuhisa Minowa def. Baru Harn via Submission Round 1 (Scarf Hold Armlock)

Rodolfo Marques vs. Yusup Saadulaev

Fight Recap: Really fast start to the fight with Marques dropping Saadulaev early and looking for finish with a submission but Saadulaev survived. Saadulaev got a takedown but Marques reversed and did some damage on top, but mainly just beat up the ropes at the end of the round. Saadulaev got an early takedown in the second round but Marques again swept him, wore Saadulaev out with a body triangle, and did some damage on top. Saadulaev ended the round on top but Marques continued to tie him up and threaten with submissions. Marques spent the majority of the third round on top, including gaining mount, but Saadulaev nearly caught Marques in a heel hook to escape. Saadulaev ate some punches on the feet, managed a takedown at the end of the round, but was once again fending off the submissions of Marques. Very good grappling contest but Marques had the more dominant positions, landed the cleaner strikes, and was more active in all areas, so I think he won the decision.

Result: Rodolfo Marques def. Yusup Saadulaev via Unanimous Decision

Masakazu Imanari vs. Abel Cullum

Fight Recap: Imanari immediately pulled guard in the first round and then went on the attack with a variety of submissions including omoplatas, triangles, and armbars. Cullum never got caught though and landed some clean punches in the guard when he wasn’t defending against submissions. The second round was more of the same, with Imanari pulling guard and constantly trying for submissions, but Cullum avoiding them and landing some solid ground and pound. Cullum landed more strikes in this round, but Imanari is so active and composed off his back. Imanari came out strong in the third round, landing some crisp left hooks. Cullum got a takedown and Imanari immediately locked up an armbar. This time he caught Cullum, possibly broke his arm, and forced the tap out. Very good performance by Imanari.

Result: Masakazu Imanari def. Abel Cullum via Submission Round 3 (Armbar)

Bibiano Fernandes vs. Takafumi Otsuka

Fight Recap: The fight almost immediately hit the ground after Fernandes ducked under a punch, got the back, took Otsuka down, and quickly locked up a rear naked choke. Otsuka didn’t tap but he went out cold. The fight lasted less than a minute.

Result: Bibiano Fernandes def. Takafumi Otsuka via Technical Submission Round 1 (Rear Naked Choke)

Hideo Tokoro vs. Antonio Banuelos

Fight Recap: Round one started slow with Tokoro flicking out his jab and Banuelos having trouble getting past the reach, but then things started to pick up as Banuelos finally found his range and started landing his right hand. Tokoro landed more strikes but Banuelos’ strikes had more power behind them. The second round was a lot like the first, with Tokoro controlling the range with his jab and Banuelos trying to land the overhand right. Banuelos dropped Tokoro with the right hand but Tokoro was right back up and then he stumbled Banuelos with a grazing head kick. Anyone’s fight heading into the third round. Tokoro pulled guard early in the third but Banuelos stayed out of a submission. On the feet, Tokoro continued to land the cleaner strikes while Banuelos was swinging for the fences. They ended up back on the ground and Tokoro attacked the arm of Banuelos, but Banuelos again stayed out of a submission. Very close fight overall but I think Tokoro was more active in all positions and just edged things out.

Result: Antonio Banuelos def. Hideo Tokoro via Split Decision

Kazuhiro Nakamura vs. Gerald Harris

Fight Recap: First round was all on the feet, with Harris controlling the pace and using his speed. Harris did his best work in the clinch where he roughed up Nakamura with good knees and shots to the body. Nakamura stuffed the few takedowns that Harris went for but otherwise didn’t do too much damage to Harris although Harris did seem to be tiring after the first. Nakamura did better in the second round, pressing forward with strikes, and even tripping Harris down a couple of times, but Harris controlled the majority of the round in the clinch and continued to land knees. Harris landed a big takedown at the end of the round to secure things. Harris was constantly looking for the takedown in the third round but could never quite get it until the final few seconds when he slammed Nakamura down, despite Nakamura grabbing the ropes. Both men landed their fair share of strikes but nothing too major. Harris should win the decision based on control but this wasn’t his best performance.

Result: Gerald Harris def. Kazuhiro Nakamura via Split Decision

Satoru Kitaoka vs. Willamy Freire

Fight Recap: Kitaoka started and ended the first round with takedowns and in between not much happened on the feet. Not a great round of action. In the second round, Freire showed good takedown defense and landed the cleaner strikes on the feet, although there was nothing too damaging. Freire kept landing the inside leg kick though, which could pay off in the third round. In the third round, Freire was given a yellow card and I’m not sure why as he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Kitaoka kept trying takedowns but Freire stuffed them. Kitaoka even tried to pull guard but Freire would have none of that and got to his feet. Freire got the better of the striking and was more aggressive, especially at the end of the round. I think Freire won the fight but I don’t know how the yellow card plays into the decision.

Result: Satoru Kitaoka def. Willamy Freire via Split Decision

Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Yan Cabral

Fight Recap: Cabral seemed to rock Sakuraba early but Sakuraba survived, fired back, and slowed things down in the clinch. Cabral ended up getting a takedown, dominated position on top, and battered Sakuraba with punches from all positions. Sakuraba took a lot of punishment in the first but made it to the bell. Cabral picked apart Sakuraba on the feet before getting the takedown, softening Sakuraba up, and finally locking up an arm triangle. Sakuraba tapped just before he went out cold. Another sad performance by Sakuraba.

Result: Yan Cabral def. Kazushi Sakuraba via Submission Round 2 (Arm Triangle)

Takeshi Inoue vs. Caol Uno

Fight Recap: Uno was doing well early but then got dropped with a right hand by Inoue. Inoue tried to finish him on the ground with strikes but Uno survived and got back to his feet. Inoue then dropped Uno with a head kick and Uno went out. The ref saved him before he could take any strikes on the ground. Might be the end of Uno’s career.

Result: Takeshi Inoue def. Caol Uno via KO Round 1 (Head Kick)

Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Joachim Hansen

Fight Recap: They came out swinging to start the first round. Hansen rocked Kawajiri early but ended up on his back. Hansen got up, but Kawajiri put him back down. Kawajiri nearly finished with a kimura but Hansen survived and ended the round on the back of Kawajiri. Great back and forth round. In the second round, Hansen was landing the cleaner strikes but Kawajiri got an early takedown and controlled the rest of the round on top. He didn’t do a ton of damage but Hansen couldn’t shake him from the bottom at all. Both men came out swinging in the third round with Hansen getting the better of the exchanges. Kawajiri muscled Hansen to the ground though, locked up an arm triangle, and forced Hansen to tap out. Great featherweight debut by Kawajiri.

Result: Tatsuya Kawajiri def. Joachim Hansen via Submission Round 3 (Arm Triangle)

Shinya Aoki vs. Rob McCullough

Fight Recap: Aoki quickly got a takedown, softened McCullough up with strikes, moved to mount, and went for a top-side triangle but McCullough scrambled up. Aoki quickly put him back down though, took the back, and locked up a rear naked choke. McCullough tried to fight it but ended up tapping out with just seconds left in the first round. Another grappling clinic by Aoki.

Result: Shinya Aoki def. Rob McCullough via Submission Round 1 (Rear Naked Choke)