When the UFC bought out the Pride Fighting Championships in 2007 most of the Japanese promotion’s talent contracts became property of Zuffa.
Despite selling off all their talent, the former Pride organizers teamed up with K1 promoters Fighting Entertainment Group shortly after the buyout and began to promote events under a new brand: DREAM.
Thereafter, locating the best DREAM odds became a regular task for MMA bettors.
The DREAM events resemble the former Pride product, using the top Japanese talent mixed with international MMA and K1 fighters.
Big-name MMA talent has included Alistair Overeem, Fedor Emelianenko, Mirko Filipovic, Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Eddie Alvarez, Joe Warren, and Gegard Mousasi.
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Since 2008 DREAM has signed numerous partnerships with other fight promotions to share talent and co-promote shows; the most recent was in January with ProElite. So far DREAM has promoted over 20 events in Japan and continues to fill the biggest arenas in the country.
Attendance is usually over 20,000 when the event is being held in Saitama at the Super Arena that hosted UFC 144 in 2012.
DREAM is very much the Pride product and governs its fights with most of the former Pride rules and regulations. [ See the latest MMA odds and updates on DREAM fight cards ]
Fights are judged by three referees each making a decision as to who won the fight after watching it in its entirety, unlike most North American fighting organizations that use a 10-point must system taken from boxing.
Using elbows to the head on an opponent is another rule that differs in DREAM from that of most North American fighting promotions.
The Japanese organization also utilizes a tournament structure for many of its events to determine which fighter will get the next shot at the title in their weight class.
Despite not having a high percentage of the top-ranked MMA fighters in the world, DREAM continues to prosper in Japan; four events were held in 2011 and five in 2010.
The promotion has seven divisions, and the current DREAM champions are:
Bantamweight: Bibiano Fernandes
Featherweight: Hiroyuki Takaya
Lightweight: Shinya Aoki
Welterweight: Marius Zaromskis
Light Heavyweight: Gegard Mousasi