Alvarez-Kikuno Set for Dream’s Cage Debut

By Jordan Breen Sep 29, 2009
Dream 11 on Oct. 6 will see the promotion's featherweight grand prix conclude, but parent company Fighting and Entertainment Group is busy putting together Dream 12, its debut in the cage.

FEG announced Tuesday two lightweight contests for the Oct. 25 Dream 12 card at Osaka Castle Hall. Bellator lightweight king Eddie Alvarez will take on Deep lightweight champ Katsunori Kikuno, and newly minted Cage Force lightweight champ Kuniyoshi Hironaka will take on South Korean prospect Won Sik Park.

Dream 12 will mark the debut of the promotion's hexagonal cage, a departure from the standard ring that has been used in virtually all major MMA organizations in Japan. Dream event producer Keiichi Sasahara also announced that the cage -- which they anticipate using for a single card once a year -- will also accompany the adoption of three five-minute rounds for the event. Typically, Dream uses a 10-minute opening round followed by a five-minute second round.

The 24-year-old Alvarez hasn't seen the Dream ring since New Year's Eve, when he was submitted in just 92 seconds by Shinya Aoki via heel hook. However, Alvarez has been busy this year as a result of upstart Bellator Fighting Championship's lightweight tournament, where he bested Greg Loughran, Eric Reynolds and Toby Imada in a 10-week span to become the promotion's first 155-pound champion. Interestingly, all three victories came by way of submission for the Philadelphia native, who’s best known for his highlight-reel knockout power.

Kikuno, arguably Japan's hottest prospect regardless of weight, has been on fire in 2009. The kyokushin stylist demolished Bu Kyung Jung and Koichiro Matsumoto earlier in the year to capture Deep's lightweight crown before making an emphatic Dream debut in July by punching out Andre "Dida" Amade in the first round.

The 33-year-old Hironaka is fresh off a first-round stoppage over Yoshihiro Koyama to capture Cage Force's lightweight title, vacated by now-Sengoku champion Mizuto Hirota. The victory gave Hironaka the first pro title of his eight-year MMA career.

Park, a South Korean who has fought most of his career in Japan, has largely made his mark in the Deep ring. In 2009, he has earned three wins in the promotion, taking first-round victories over Naoki Matsushita, Atsuhiro Tsuboi, and most recently, over Yuichi Ikari in August.

Sasahara also announced that the card would feature the Dream debut of another South Korean talent, Myeon Ho Bae, who will face a yet-to-be-determined opponent. Bae joins a large cast of MMA notables also scheduled for action on Dream's first caged card, including Alistair Overeem, Marius Zaromskis, Paulo Filho, Yoshiro Maeda, Murilo Rua, Kiyoshi Tamura and Andrews Nakahara.

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