Four More Fights Added To DREAM: "Genki Desu Ka" CardJapanese veterans Hayato “Mach” Sakurai and Ryo “The Piranha” Chonan will face off for the second time in one of four bouts announced today for DREAM: “Genki Desu Ka” on December 31st in Saitama, Japan. Chonan defeated Sakurai by doctor stoppage at a September 2003 DEEP event.

Also announced were the semi-finals and final of the DREAM Bantamweight Grand Prix. Masakazu “Ashikan Judan” Imanari takes on Antonio Banuelos and Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes faces off with Rodolfo Marques Diniz. The winners will then clash in the tournament final later in the same night.

Sakurai (35-12-2) and Chonan (20-12-0) engaged in a back-and-forth battle at DEEP: “12th Impact” eight years ago. Sakurai dominated much of the opening round, but Chonan rebounded with a strong second stanza. After a takedown from Sakurai in round three, Chonan landed a vicious upkick from the bottom that caused Sakurai’s right eye to swell up very badly and the ringside physician called off the fight.

Since the first meeting, Sakurai and Chonan have gone on to have successful careers, but both have experienced setbacks as well. Sakurai won the 2005 PRIDE Lightweight Grand Prix, but was unable to capture the promotion’s lightweight title from Takanori “Fireball Kid” Gomi. He found early success in DREAM, but has suffered losses in each of his last four fights and his motivation has been questioned. Chonan had a brief stint in the UFC before returning to Japan. He has now won two straight fights, including a victory three weeks ago.


In DREAM Bantamweight Grand Prix action, Imanari (24-9-2) and Banuelos (19-7-0) will face off in one semi-final after victories at Dream.17. Imanari submitted KOTC champion Abel “The Silent Assassin” Cullum in the third round, while Banuelos earned a Split Decision victory over DREAM Japan GP winner Hideo Tokoro. Imanari has won eight of his last ten fights and the leglock specialist has posted 15 wins to date by submission. Banuelos made one appearance for the UFC in February after a lengthy stint in the WEC. He has knocked out seven of his career opponents.

Semi-final two pits former DREAM Featherweight Champion Fernandes (9-3-0) against the once-beaten Diniz (14-1-0). Fernandes won seven straight fights from 2008-2010 and won the DREAM Featherweight Grand Prix along the way. He defended his new title once against Joachim “Hellboy” Hansen, but lost the belt to current champ Hiroyuki “Streetfight Bancho” Takaya on New Year’s Eve last year. Fernandes choked out Takafumi Otsuka in just 41 seconds at Dream.17 to advance to the semi-finals and now faces Diniz, who has won 11 fights in a row and defeated Yusup Saadulaev in his quarterfinal bout.

The winners of the Imanari-Banuelos and Fernandes-Diniz semi-final matchups will then square off in the tournament final later in the night to crown the first DREAM Bantamweight Grand Prix Champion.

DREAM: “Genki Desu Ka” is set for December 31st at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The uniquely-titled event – which translates to “How Are You?” – is named after a popular phrase used by general producer Antonio Inoki and replaces the traditional K-1 “Dynamite!!” New Year’s Eve card.



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