DREAM Featherweight Champ Hiroyuki Takaya To Face Georgi Karakhanyan In Tokyo On New Year’s Eve
Hayato Sakurai vs. Phil Baroni and Satoru Kitaoka vs. Will Brooks also added to DREAM 18 New Year’s Eve card
By FCF Staff
A DREAM 18 New Year’s Eve matchup between DREAM Featherweight (145 pounds) Champion Hiroyuki Takaya (17-9) and Bellator veteran Georgi Karakhanyan (19-3) was announced today at a press conference held by DREAM in promotion of the Dec. 31 event.
In addition, the promotion announced a welterweight (170 pounds) contest between PRIDE and UFC veterans Hayato “Mach” Sakurai (36-12) and Phil “The NY Badass” Baroni (15-15) and a lightweight (155 pounds) tilt between former Pancrase star Satoru Kitaoka (30-11) and undefeated Will Brooks (7-0).
Takaya has been out of action since last New Year’s Eve when he earned a unanimous decision over Takeshi Inoue at “Fight For Japan.” The 35-year-old was crowned the DREAM featherweight champion on New Year’s Eve in 2010 after defeating fellow superstar Bibiano Fernandes by way of unanimous decision.
The 27-year-old Karakhanyan is riding a five-fight win streak. He was last seen in action on Sept. 7 when he earned a unanimous decision over Micah Miller at Tachi Palace Fights 14 in Lemoore, Calif. Karakhanyan parted ways with Bellator after suffering a third round TKO defeat at the hands of Patricio “Pitbull” Preire in the quarterfinal round of the promotion’s season four featherweight tournament. Karakhanyan’s overall record in Bellator was 2-2.
The 37-year-old Sakurai’s start will also be his first since last New Year’s Eve when he earned a unanimous decision over Ryo Chonan. The victory snapped a four-fight losing streak for the former Shooto welterweight champion and 2009 DREAM Welterweight Grand Prix Semifinalist.
Like Sakurai, the 36-year-old Baroni, a former star in the UFC and PRIDE, is fighting to stay relevant in the sport. In his last start, the Team AKA member scored a first round TKO on Rodrigo Ribeiro with a combination of soccer kicks and punches at ONE FC 5 in The Philippines on Aug. 31.
Kitaoka, a 32-year-old submission expert and former Sengoku lightweight Grand Prix champion, holds notable victories over Takanori Gomi and Paul Daley. In his last start, Kitaoka was victorious by unanimous decision over Katsunori Kikuno on June 15.
The fight with Kitaoka represents the biggest challenge of the 26-year-old Brooks’ professional career that began last Jan. To date, only Brooks’ last opponent, Drew Dober, has taken Brooks the distance of a fight. Brooks boasts four wins by way of submission and two wins by way of KO.
Additional bouts for the DREAM 18 New Year’s Eve card are expected to be announced soon.
Latest “GSI Presents: DREAM 18 NYE Special” Fight Card:
Lightweight (155 pounds): Shinya Aoki (31-6) vs. Antonio McKee (28-4)
Bantamweight (135 pounds): Bibiano Fernandes (12-3) vs. Yoshihiro Maeda (30-11)
Middleweight (185 pounds): Melvin Manhoef (26-9-1) vs. Denis Kang (35-15)
Featherweight (145 pounds): Hiroyuki Takaya (17-9) vs. Georgi Karakhanyan (19-3)
Welterweight (170 pounds): Hayato Sakurai (36-12) vs. Phil Baroni (15-15)
Lightweight: Satoru Kitaoka (30-11) vs. Will Brooks (7-0)