Ishida-Nakamura, Aoki-Gardner Added to Dream 7

By Tony Loiseleur Feb 20, 2009
Dream event producer Keiichi Sasahara announced on Friday the inclusion of two superfights for the Dream 7 featherweight grand prix card on March 8 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. In two lightweight clashes, Mitsuhiro Ishida will take on the stoic Daisuke Nakamura, while Shinya Aoki will face David Gardner.

Ishida (17-4-1), one of the names mentioned under consideration to face former lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez at Strikeforce “Shamrock vs. Diaz” on April 11 in San Jose, Calif., emerged as a hot prospect in Japan after eight straight wins buoyed him to the top of Pride Bushido’s ranks. Ishida sports key victories over Melendez and Marcus Aurelio, and annihilated wrestler Justin Wilcox at Strikeforce’s second Playboy Mansion event last September.

The weathered Nakamura (19-9) is on an eight-win streak after completing the first season of M-1 Challenge. He submitted crowd favorite Hideo Tokoro by armbar in 2:23 at K-1 New Year’s Eve event in Japan.

Considered one of the division’s wilier ground specialists, the 25-year-old Aoki had quite a run in the lightweight ranks in 2008 with victories over Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante, Caol Uno, and Eddie Alvarez.

Aoki (19-3), who still holds the Shooto world 168-pound title, is still expected to take his place in Dream’s welterweight (168 pound) tournament, which begins on April 5 at the NGK Insulators Hall in Nagoya, Japan.

A member of the U.S. squad for M-1 Challenge’s 2008 season, Gardner (19-10) earned a split decision against Kenneth Alexander in California’s Pure Combat promotion last November.
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