Four of the promotion's top lightweights traveled to Osaka, Japan, hoping to claim the inaugural DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix Championship. But the best of the bunch failed to live up to their rankings as alternate
Still stunned after his title-clinching victory Monday, the 29-year-old Hansen could only respond to his performance with: "I had a great night."
A replacement for
"I begged the doctors to let me fight and give me a few minutes just to try, and they said no," Alvarez said, squinting out of his swollen and bruised right eye. "So, it's unfortunate, but I wouldn't have anyone other than Joachim Hansen to replace me."
The former 154-pound Shooto champion was knocked out of the tournament after losing to Alvarez in a potential "Fight of the Year" in May, but Hansen (19-7-1) put himself in position to capitalize should one of the advancing lightweights be too injured to continue.
His championship foe Aoki went the distance in his semifinal bout against
Uno, a surprising semifinalist after a submission victory over
For Alvarez (15-1), who was matched with Kawajiri (22-5-2) after impressive an impressive win against
But so did Kawajiri, as each fighter came back from trouble to switch momentum. It was Alvarez who refused to give in, seizing control of the fight only at its conclusion. The Philadelphia-bred "Beast From the East" pressed the tough Japanese wrestler against the ropes after serving him a terrific combination.
Alvarez's triumph was short lived, though, after doctors ordered him not to fight Aoki in the finals because of his enlarged blueberry for an eye. But the injured fighter was given a promise by the newest DREAM champion: his first title defense will be against Alvarez.