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Best NCAA Wrestlers Turned MMA Fighters

December 3rd, 2011 by Tom

By Brian Lopez-Benchimol

Of all the bases of martial arts to build upon a budding, MMA, career, wrestling has been one of the truer and more dominant.

Over the years, we have seen a steady increase in the amount of accomplished wrestlers entering the sport today, with some reaching great heights in becoming world champions in their respective organizations.

The NCAA wrestler represents the upper echelon of competitive athletes who have garnered praise from their conferences, often times having been scouted by larger universities due to their obvious prowess.

So, among the world's best MMA fighters today, who came from an NCAA background?

Ben Askren

Current Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren, who recently defeated former UFC and Strikeforce veteran Jay Hieron in the first defense of his title, comes from a long and very prestigious background as an athlete.

Wrestling for the University of Missouri, Askren earned two state titles as a high school wrestler prior to his entry into the big leagues. As a collegiate wrestler, Askren became a runner-up at 174 pounds at the NCAA Division I championships in both 2004 and 2005. He later claimed the title in 2006 and 2007"making him one of the more accomplished athletes to have ever been as successfully competitive.

Askren parlayed his skills toward the 2008 Olympics. Though he came up short there, he has since rebounded with the success he has reached now, becoming an undefeated and highly touted mixed martial artist.

Joe Warren

Current Bellator featherweight champion-turned-bantamweight hopeful Joe Warren has enjoyed a lot of success as an MMA fighter while he is still gunning for a competitive amateur career as a wrestler.

Warren attended East Kentwood High School, where he won two state titles before attending the University of Michigan. His star really shined afterwards.

Warren took gold in two World Cup tournaments before earning first once again in the prestigious Pan American Games in 2006, making him an early favorite in the 2008 Olympic Games. However, Warren failed to qualify for the prestigious tournament after he had tested positive for marijuana in the pre-drug screenings.

He will now look to accomplish the feat that had slipped his grasp in years prior, as Warren will look to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games.

Chuck Liddell

The former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell came from a long history of athleticism as a youth.

At the age of 12, Liddell began Koei-Kan Karate and later took up football in high school, become a four-year starter at San Marcos High.

Liddell would later attend California Polytechnic State University, transitioning his skills to the mat, where he became an NCAA Division I wrestler for the school, though he failed to acquire any real title recognition.

No matter, as Liddell has since used his wrestling base, coupled with knockout power, to become one of the most recognized and popular fighters in the world of mixed martial arts. He has since been inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Cain Velasquez

The current UFC heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez comes from a rich background as a wrestler.

Velasquez took to sports early, as he wrestled all four years at Kofa High School, winning the 5A Arizona Wrestling Championship twice, compiling an astonishing 110-10 record in those formative years.

Velasquez attended Iowa Central Community College, where he wrestled for one season and won the NJCAA National Championship.

The heavyweight great went to the prestigious Arizona State University, where he became a standout early on the NCAA Division I scene, placing fifth in the country in 2005 and fourth in 2006 while compiling an overall record 86-17.

Now, Velasquez enjoys the success of his MMA career, where he remains undefeated and presides as the UFC's undisputed heavyweight ruler.

Matt Hughes

The former two-time UFC welterweight champion built his illustrious career as a mixed martial artist thanks to his extensive wrestling background.

Hughes attended Hillsboro High School, where he became a two-time IHSA Class A State Wrestling Champion at 155 pounds. Next, Hughes attended Eastern Illinois University, where he immediately earned NCAA Division I All-American honors, placing eighth and fifth in his final two years at 157.

Though collegiate titles escaped him there, Hughes has since become one of the more accomplished mixed martial artist to have ever lived.

Randy Couture

How do you follow after such an illustrious photo like that?

As a youth, Couture wrestled early in life beginning in middle school before attending Lynwood High School, where he became state champion in his senior year.

Couture later attended Oklahoma State, where he became a two-time runner-up for the NCAA Division I championship while earning All-American honors. After his collegiate career, Couture went on to become a three-time Olympic alternate before transitioning to the world of mixed martial arts.

There, Couture first claimed the UFC heavyweight title in just his fourth bout as a professional. Since then, Couture has acquired a total of five titles in the organization"three in the heavyweight class and two as a 205-pounder, a feat that has been unmatched since.

Josh Koscheck

Koscheck comes from a long and rich background as an amateur wrestler and, on paper, was one of the best to enter the Octagon.

Coming into prominence at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Koscheck won all of his 42 matches as a junior, going on to become the Division I champion at 174 pounds.

The enigmatic Kosheck earned All-American honors after coming in fourth, second, first and third, respectively, in his four years at Edinboro. His accomplishments helped earn him three PSAC Wrestler of the Year awards while earning the Eastern Wrestling League Achievement Award on two separate occasions.

Since then, Koscheck has been regarded as one of the top-five welterweight fighters in MMA, having defeated the likes of Diego Sanchez, Paul Daley and Matt Hughes in his career, while challenging for a world title in the process.

Kevin Randleman

The future UFC heavyweight champion was always a powerhouse, even in his earlier days as a youth.

Randleman attended the prestigious Ohio State University, where he competed at 177 pounds. Randleman became the two-time NCAA Division I champion, earning All-American honors after his incredible and storied run of becoming one of the few men to earn the title back-to-back (in 1992 and 1993) after becoming a runner-up in 1991 as a sophomore.

After his collegiate career, Randleman moved into the world of mixed martial arts, where he first came into prominence in the UFC and became the undisputed champion in just his third bout with the organization.

In his career, Randleman holds notable victories over the likes of former champion Maurice Smith, Pedro Rizzo, Renato Sobral and former Pride great Mirko Cro Cop.

Phil Davis

One of the more promising stars in the mixed martial arts world, Phil Davis first built his star on the foundation built as a collegiate wrestler.

He began that career at Penn State, finishing fifth at the NCAA Division I championships in 2007. Davis would later earn the prestigious title in 2008 as a senior, graduating as a four-time All-American while compiling an overall 116-17 record.

Since then, Davis has gone on a tear as a professional mixed martial artist. Davis went on a 4-0 run is less than one year's time before being called up to the UFC, where he defeated former WEC champ Brian Stann in his debut.

Since then, Davis remains undefeated and has gone 5-0 inside the Octagon, with his last bout earning him top-10 status after defeating former Pride star Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

Shane Carwin

The powerhouse in Shane Carwin first built his base as a collegiate wrestler.

Carwin attended Western State College in 1996, where he became the NCAA Division II runner-up both in 1996 and 1997. Eventually, Carwin earned the NCAA Division II heavyweight national championship in 1999 and later became a volunteer coach for the University of North Colorado.

It was in that area where Carwin linked up with the Grudge Training Center, headed by top trainer Trevor Wittman. Since then, Carwin has earned world recognition, beginning his career with an 8-0 start before making his way to the UFC.

There, Carwin has earned knockout victories over the likes of Christian Wellisch, former title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga and former champ Frank Mir"the latter of which earned Carwin the interim title in the process.

Matt Hamill

Though Hamill competed on the Division III circuit in his amateur wrestling career, he deserves recognition nonetheless since he accomplished much while being deaf.

Hamill attended Rochester Institute of Technology in 1996. In 1997, 1998 and 1999, Hamill earned the NCAA Division III championship, competing at 167, 190 and 197 pounds, respectively.

Invited to the 2001 Summer Deaflympics, Hamill won a silver medal in Greco-Roman and gold as a freestyle wrestler.

Hamill then transitioned his skills to the mixed marital arts scene, where Hamill joined the UFC on the heels of his stint on The Ultimate Fighter on Season 3. Hamill became a top contender in the 205-pound class, where he earned impressive victories over Keith Jardine, top contender Mark Munoz and former champion Tito Ortiz.

Mark Coleman

Former UFC champ Mark Coleman, much like all successful heavyweight hopefuls, built his career on his collegiate career as a wrestler.

Beginning wrestling as a teen, Coleman attended Miami University in Ohio, where became the two-time Mid-American Conference champion. In his final year, Coleman transferred to the prestigious Ohio State, where he won the NCAA Division I title and clinched his spot as an All-American athlete.

Coleman earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic wrestling team, placing second at the FILA Wrestling World Championships and seventh overall at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Coleman would later be labeled as the "godfather of ground-and-pound, "when he transitioned to the MMA scene, winning the UFC 10 Tournament in his debut as a pro in 1996.

Coleman would win the subsequent tournament before becoming the organization's first heavyweight champion by besting Dan Severn with a first-round submission. A subsequent Grand Prix title in the Pride organization built Coleman's star, where he was eventually inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Mark Munoz

On paper, Mark Munoz could very well be the best wrestler to ever enter the UFC.

Attending Vallejo High School, Munoz earned the California State Wrestling Championship twice at 189 pounds and the 1996 NHSCA national high school championship as well.

Munoz was later scouted and recruited by Oklahoma State University after having been one of the most-sought-after wrestlers in the country. Munoz earned two Big 12 titles while taking home the prestigious NCAA Division I title in his senior year.

Munoz also took his skills into international waters when he earned the silver medal at the FILA Junior World Wrestling Championships in 1998.

Since then, Munoz has become of the fast rising contenders in the middleweight division in the UFC, having bested the likes of Kendall Grove, Aaron Simpson, C.B. Dollaway and most recently Demian Maia, besting the former title challenger by decision.

Tyron Woodley

Current Strikeforce phenom Tyron Woodley came from humbling backgrounds as a youth.

Born 11th of 13, Woodley grew up in Ferguson, Missouri. When he was at McCluer High School, Woodley was a natural athlete, becoming a two-time state wrestling finalist before earning his first official title as a senior when he totaled a 48-0 record.

Woodley attended the University of Missouri, alongside Ben Askren, where he earned NCAA Division I honors and All-American stature. He became team captain from 2003-2005, earning the Big 12 title in 2003 before becoming runner-up in 2005.

Since then, Woodley has been coveted as one of the top prospects in MMA. Woodley is undefeated as a pro, holding notable victories over the likes of Andre Galvao, Tarec Saffiedine and former UFC contender and Strikeforce title challenger Paul Daley.

Mo Lawal

An international success in every sense of the word, "King "Mo first took to the MMA scene on the heels of a very extensive wrestling career that extended past his collegiate efforts.

Growing up in Texas, Lawal became a two-time high school state runner-up in 1997 and 1998 before taking the title in 1999 at the Texas state championships.

Lawal attended the University of Central Oklahoma, where he competed for three years in the Division II circuit, becoming the 2001 runner-up before taking the NCAA Division II title in 2002. He later earned the Big 12 title in 2003 before moving up to Division I.

Lawal took third before he went on to the international circuit, where he earned a litany of titles and totaled well over 20 medals and/or titles. Once an Olympic hopeful, Lawal transitioned to the world of mixed martial arts in 2008.

Lawal took a big splash in his MMA career when he defeated UFC veteran Travius Wiuff in his debut, knocking out the touted heavyweight in a little over two minutes. Eventually, Lawal became the Strikeforce 205-pound champion when he defeated Gegard Mousasi by decision.

Cole Konrad

A successful collegiate wrestler-turned-world champion"this story sounds familiar.

Cole Konrad began his career as an accomplished wrestling standout at Freedom High School, compiling an overall 101-15 record winning the Wisconsin state championship in 2002. Konrad entered the Junior National Championships, earning titles in both Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling.

Konrad attended University of Minnesota, where as a junior, Konrad went undefeated, eventually parlaying his success to the NCAA Division I championship. Konrad again repeated the amazing feat as a senior, going undefeated again and taking the prestigious title in 2007.

At the Pan American Games in 2005, Konrad won the freestyle wrestling title in the 120 kg division.

Since then, "The Polar Bear "has become a hot MMA prospect. He has found lots of success as a pro, earning the Bellator heavyweight championship after defeating a bevy of opponents in the organization's first tournament.

Victories over Damian Grabowski and UFC veterans Neil Grove and former title challenger Paul Buentello anchor his list of accolades.

Don Frye

MMA great Don Frye has become one of the more notable fixtures in all of the sport, thanks to his moustache, persona and overall fighting skills that rely on his wrestling background.

Frye attended Buena High School in Sierra Vista, where he first found wrestling, and attended the prestigious Arizona State University, where fighters such as Cain Velasquez, C.B. Dollaway and Aaron Simpson have all called home at one point.

Frye won three Pac-10 titles in college, earning Division I All-American honors for his efforts which he later parlayed into Olympic run. In 1987, Frye won both the freestyle and Greco-Roman events during the Olympic qualifier, where in his senior year he finished out his career at Oklahoma State.

Since then, Frye has been recognized as a pioneer in MMA, winning the UFC 8 tournament upon his mixed martial arts debut and the heavyweight tourney in December of 1996. For some time, Frye held the record for fastest knockout in the UFC after he finished Thomas Ramirez with a KO punch in just eight seconds.

Jon Fitch

Despite convincing himself that he is not an athlete but a tireless worker, Fitch does come from a competitive background as a wrestler.

Attending Carroll High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Fitch wrestled at Purdue University as a walk-on. Fitch wrestled while under the watchful eye of mixed martial arts icon Tom Erikson.

A four-year letterman, Fitch became team captain of the Boilermakers, compiling an overall 97-12 record and earning NCAA Division I honors.

Though he went relatively unaccomplished as a collegiate athlete, Fitch has since become one of the more notable figures in mixed martial arts. He is considered universally as the consensus No. 2 fighter in the welterweight division.

Fitch has compiled an overall 13-1-1 record inside the Octagon and holds notable victories over the likes of Thiago Alves (twice), Diego Sanchez and Paulo Thiago, while having challenged for a world title against current champion Georges St-Pierre, turning in a "Fight of the Night "worthy performance in defeat.

Johny Hendricks

Hendricks attended the highly touted Oklahoma State University on the heels of a long and accomplished wrestling career in high school, where he earned three Oklahoma state titles whilst competing for Edmond Memorial High School.

In 2005 and 2006, Hendricks took home the NCAA Division I title, wrestling then at 165 pounds.

Hendricks finished second in 2007, making him a four-time All-American at the university, polishing off his career with three Big 12 titles before making his way to the world of mixed martial arts.

Since entering the Zuffa fold, Hendricks has gone 8-1 under both the WEC and UFC banners. He holds an overall 11-1 record, and his lone defeat comes at the hands of contender Rick Story.

Hendricks holds impressive wins over The Ultimate Fighter Season 7 winner Amir Sadollah and Charlie Brenneman"knocking out both men before the final bell.

Jake Rosholt

UFC veteran Jake Rosholt remains as accomplished as they come on the collegiate scene.

Beginning his career at Sandpoint High School, Rosholt would win three Idaho state titles and the national title in 2001 at 189 pounds.

Rosholt attended Oklahoma State University, where he won the NCAA Division I title in his freshman year, a feat that is rare.

Rosholt again claimed NCAA fame again in 2005 and 2006, earning All-American honors all four years of college while making him a legend in the wrestling scene. He's one of only a few men to earn three NCAA titles.

Following his accomplished collegiate career, Rosholt moved to the world of MMA, where he went uncontested in his five outings. He entered the UFC on the heels of his brief stint in the now-defunct WEC promotion.

In the organization, he picked up a convincing victory over perennial contender Chris Leben, submitting the heavy hitter with a third round arm-triangle choke.

Brock Lesnar

When Brock Lesnar was born in Webster, South Dakota, a star was born.

Lesnar picked up the wrestling bug at an early age when he attended Webster High School, securing a 33-0 record in his senior year.

Lesnar attended the University of Minnesota on scholarship, where he would take second place at the NCAA Division I championships. Lesnar vindicated himself in 2000 when he took the title, earning All-American honors in his final two years at the university.

In his four years as a collegiate wrestler, Lesnar compiled an astounding 106-5 record overall.

Though a stint as a WWE star soon followed, Lesnar eventually made his way to mixed marital arts, where he joined the UFC in February of 2008. In just his second professional bout, Lesnar took on former world champion Frank Mir, besting him early before succumbing to submission.

Eventually, Lesnar earned the heavyweight title when he defeated UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture and later avenged his defeat to Mir by successfully defending his title, TKO'ing the jiu-jitsu expert on second-round strikes.

A victory over Shane Carwin followed, legitimizing Lesnar's place a world-ranked MMA fighter.

No Title Winner at Dream 9 as Greco-Roman wrestling champion Joe Warren upset local favorite .

May 27th, 2009 by Tom

YOKOHAMA "Greco-Roman wrestling champion Joe Warren upset local favorite Norifumi "Kid "Yamamoto Tuesday at the Dream 9 Featherweight Grand Prix 2009 Second Round.

"Kid Yamamoto is a champion, and I respect him, "said the 32-year-old American from the winner's circle, "but a lot of these champions have been on top for a long time, and it's my job to crush them!"

Yamamoto, who had not fought since New Year's Eve 2007, got a bye in the Featherweight GP's first round. His return to action from knee surgery was the big story on tonight's card "but Warren had his own ideas regarding the ending.

The tone for this one was set during the referee's pre-fight instructions, when Yamamoto appeared ready to hug his opponent. Warren accepted a handshake, but swatted away Yamamoto's second hand. This was a hard-fought bout that went the distance.

Warren started light on his feet, and Yamamoto sent him reeling with an early front kick. The American reset, and closed with uppercuts before getting the first of his throwdowns from the clinch. Repeatedly, Warren the wrestler closed for takedowns. Yamamoto, who has a pretty good ground game himself, elected to stand and strike here, and made a strategy of meeting his opponent's advances with kicks, knees and the clinch. Warren accepted, going into the over-and-under clinch and trading knees with the Kid.

When he did get the fight to the mat Warren was mean "frequently guillotining and mashing Yamamoto's face then standing to slam. By midway through the first Yamamoto was bleeding from the bridge of the nose, by the end of the bout more blood was flowing from a gash under his left eye.

Yamamoto too often waited for Warren to close then tied him up, and the Japanese fighter was shown a yellow for this. A solid right hook and right straight punch scored points for Yamamoto, but Warren was overall more intrepid; and had the better stuff on the mat, particularly when he managed side mounts to bring the knees in and hammer down punches.

Yamamoto was still very much in this going into the second, but again he let his opponent control the flow and pace. Yamamoto's dandy right hook might have turned the tide, but Warren shook the blow off, smiled and continued pressing.

One judge did give it to Yamamoto, but the other two went with Warren.

"It's a win, we'll take it. "beamed Warren in his post-fight interview. "I'm honored to beat a champion like Kid Yamamoto. This was the Featherweight GP quarterfinal, so now we'll put this win behind us and concentrate on coming back and winning those other belts."

He continued, "I know my technique is not as solid as it should be, I need to learn how to stop some kicks, but I'm working hard, and the most dangerous thing is that I get better every single day."

"It was a split decision, "sighed Yamamoto in his post-fight interview, "but he was on top of me a lot, so I admit I lost the fight. He's a very good grappler, and I couldn't punch him as much as I hoped. But I hadn't fought for a long time, and I learned a lot tonight."

Warren vs. Yamamoto was one of four elimination bouts in the 63kg/139lbs DREAM Featherweight Grand Prix 2nd Round "the marquee attraction at Tuesday's event. The Yokohama Arena also hosted four "Super Hulk "David vs. Goliath battles; a Lightweight contest featuring Brazilian MMA star JZ Calvancante; and, in the Main Event, a DREAM Middleweight title match between Ronaldo "Jacare "Souza and Jason "Mayhem "Miller.

Also in the Featherweight tournament, Brazilian jiujitsu master Bibiano Fernandes took on Masakazu Imanari of Japan.

Fernandes, in a crouch, repeatedly went for the leg takedown here. And repeatedly, Imanari dropped to defend with bicycle kicks, which Fernandes grabbed and kicked at some, but was otherwise reluctant to pass. Plenty of tension, but an overall lack of engagement through the first until Fernandes ducked a flying knee and took a side mount with a minute remaining, putting in only a few off-target uppercuts and knees to end the first frame.

A similarly listless second "Fernandes got the win, but the fighters lost the room.

Happily for the crowd of 15,009, there were thrills galore when Japanese grappler Hideo Tokoro took on Abel Cullum, a 22-year-old American with a postmodern penchant for sideburns and cowboy hats.

Spirited sparring to start before a clumsy Cullum leg takedown attempt left the pair tied up in what can only be described as the pretzel position. Plenty of creative twisting and tumbling through an unorthodox first, Tokoro getting close to a triangle choke at one point, Cullum approaching a heel hook when they went north-south for a spell. Neither could finish but both had great chances, reversals and strikes.

Cullum started the second with a single leg takedown but Tokoro ended up with a good rear position that the fatigued Cullum could not break. With Cullum's corner shouting for a sweep, Tokoro tightened his grip, and when his opponent attempted to stand, brought up the arms for a rear naked choke to force the tapout.

In the final Featherweight GP contests, Yoshiro Maeda of Japan tangoed with compatriot Hiroyuki Takaya.

Maeda took an early half mount here, but Takaya's defenses were sound and soon the pair were standing and striking, both getting a few punches in on target. Maeda had better results with his second mount, passing with punches and knees. When the boys got back on their feet it was Maeda again with the superior stuff, and now Takaya was bleeding badly from above the eye. With the clock running out on the first Takaya was stuck in the corner and Maeda was pumping in knees "when in a flash everything changed.

Takaya dodged a blow, and, with Maeda going the other way, ducked out of the corner and to his feet. Maeda turned and followed with fists, but Takaya landed a devastating right cross on a counter. Maeda's knees buckled and he went down in a heap. A revitalized Takaya leapt in to hammer at his unresponsive opponent, bringing the referee forward to stop the fight just 20 seconds before the bell.

With their victories tonight, Warren, Fernandes, Tokoro and Takaya advance to the September Featherweight GP semifinals.

There was plenty of action and excitement in DREAM's helter-skelter Super Hulk tournament, as none of the four Openweight bouts made it out of the first round.

Bruiser Bob Sapp of the United States brought a whopping 56kg/123lbs weight advantage to the ring for his bout with Japanese pro-wrestler Ikuhisa Minowa. Everybody loves the underdog, and Minowa gave the partisan crowd plenty to love in this short-but-sweet performance.

Sapp charged to wrap around a headlock, and soon had muscled his opponent to the ground for a side then rear mount. However, Sapp could not sustain pressure, and after absorbing a few punches to the side of the head the crafty Minowa made his move, reversing to top position and working an Achilles lock to force the tapout at just 75 seconds.

"I've fought the big guys before, "said Minowa afterward. "And I learned that I shouldn't stay in the ring with them too long "one good strike from them could be very dangerous. So I really wanted to finish the fight early, to avoid that."

Also wildly heterogeneous were Korean titan Hong-Man Choi and six-time Major League Baseball All Star Jose Canseco, 45. These two faced off in a match that had garnered plenty of media interest stateside.

Alas, Canseco just didn't have it in him. The Cuban landed a promising right cross during his early hit-and-run strategy, then threw a couple of kicks before pointing to his right knee and wincing. Now Choi caught up with his limping opponent, tossing him to the ground then leaping atop to rain down the punches. The referee had no choice but to step in and call it for Choi. This one went 77 seconds.

Another pair of strikingly dissimilar athletes were K-1 veteran Jan "The Giant "Nortje and Cameroon judoka Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, who fought in the third Super Hulk contest.

Nortje missed with a low kick before the aggressive Sokoudjou closed with a bear hug, looking for the takedown. Nortje however stayed on his feet. Sokoudjou made good with low kicks before taking another bear hug and twisting a takedown to side mount. Nortje's defense was wanting, as Sokoudjou pounded in enough fists to get the referee to stop it. Sokoudjou however didn't immediately heed the call to cease, and this did not go over well with K-1 veteran Ray Sefo and the rest of Nortje's corner. A bit of shoving and shouting between the two teams at the end of this one, and a yellow card to Sokoudjou.

"Nortje was too big, so it was too difficult for me to reach him, "said Sokoudjou in his post-bout interview. "My tactics were to clinch, take down, and strike. I was a little emotional at the end. I never intended to keep punching after the referee signaled a stop, so I want to apologize to my opponent."

With a mere 31kg/68lbs weight differential and 8cm/3 "of height going the other way, boxers Mark Hunt of New Zealand and Gegard Mousasi of Holland represented "on the Super Hulk card anyway "relatively similar physical specimens.

Mousasi came in quickly with a single leg takedown and took side mount, but Hunt defended well against the punches. Mousasi however soon seized the opportunity to extract Hunt's left arm and hyperextend for the submission and victory.

Tonight's four Super Hulk winners "Minowa, Choi, Sokoudjou and Mousasi "advance to the tournament semifinals in September, with the two men victorious there going head-to-head at "Dynamite! "on New Year's Eve.

Topping off tonight's card, the Main Event was a title fight. When Mousasi moved up a weight class he had to leave his Dream Middleweight belt behind. Here, Brazilian Ronaldo "Jacare "Souza and American barbarian Jason "Mayhem "Miller fought for the right to claim it. This was a rematch between the pair, Jacare won by decision last June.

The two traded hard strikes from the opening bell, Jacare finding his distance and making good with a straight punch combination before a throw left Jacare down in the corner. In a flash, Miller fired in a kick, opening a nasty gash over the Brazilian's forehead. The foul prompted a time stoppage, doctor check and a yellow card for Miller. Jacare was cleared to continue, and after resumption got a quick takedown. With Jacare pressing hard for a mount, it quickly became clear he was also flooding Miller's chest with blood. Another stop and this time the ringside doctor decided the cut was too serious and Jacare could not continue. It was announced that under Dream rules the fight would be ruled a "no contest."

Afterward, Jacare told the media he thought he'd been on the road to victory in the fight, because his punches were landing. Informed of the quip, Miller just laughed. "I'm very disappointed, "he said, "I wanted to give the Dream fans a great show and I think I did, but the wrong way "baka dakara! (I must be stupid!)"

And finally, a highly anticipated Superfight in the Lightweight class saw wrestler Tatsuya Kawajiri of Japan take on popular Brazilian grappler Gesias "JZ "Calvancante.

Kawajiri did a fine job of controlling here. The bout started with Calvancante in a boxing stance, fists far forward, tagging Kawajiri with the one-two before grabbing a kick and firing in a hard left. They then went to the ground, Calvancante locking the head and wrapping the legs, but doing little else to threaten. Some sparring after a re-stand before Calvancante failed with a leg takedown and Kawajiri hooked up the Brazilian and pumped the knee. Kawajiri landed a nice left before they tumbled down and locked up on the mat. No apparent damage to either fighter at the bell to end the first.

The fight went to the mat early in the second, Kawajiri again on top and Calvancante locking him up to stay out of trouble. Back on their feet it was Kawajiri with the better strikes, pounding a right onto his opponent's chin. Midway through the second, the Japanese fighter landed more tight punches from a side mount. Now Calvancante looked tired, and Kawajiri's superior stamina allowed his to ride out the round to a well-deserved unanimous decision.

All fights were fought under official Dream rules, with a 10-minute first round and a five-minute second round.

The Olympia DREAM.9 Featherweight Grand Prix 2009 2nd Round attracted 15,009 to the Yokohama Arena. It was broadcast live in Japan on TBS and SkyPerfect; and in the United States on HDNet.

Press Release by Monty DiPietro (Photo courtesy of Dream)