TOKYO, March 15 -- Fate has a funny way of playing out sometimes.
This was certainly apparent Saturday at the inaugural Dream -- the
new co-production between K-1 and former Pride staffers -- after
the highly touted main event between jiu-jitsu ace Shinya Aoki (Pictures)
and two-time Hero's lightweight
grand prix champion Gesias Calvancante
ended without a winner.
Misfortune first reared its ugly head last December, when
Calvancante injured his knee during training and pulled out of the
New Year's Eve main event against Aoki at Yarennoka. Despite the
seriousness of the injury, the Brazilian managed to battle back. A
mere three months later it was announced that the highly
anticipated bout was back on.
The fight had the makings of a classic due to the fact that the two
fighters mirror each other in many ways. Both are champions, with
Aoki currently holding the Shooto middleweight title and
Calvancante holding two Hero's grand prix titles. Both have
rocketed up through their respective promotions, and both have gone
a very long time without suffering a defeat.
With the merger of K-1 and former Pride employees, the dream
matchup had finally become a reality.
During the bout, Aoki ended up on his back after each clash,
looking to tie Calvancante up on the ground. The Brazilian,
however, didn't follow his opponent down, instead opting to wait
till the referee ordered Aoki to stand.
The unfortunate beginning of the end happened just after Aoki had
ducked a Calvancante high kick. The Japanese fighter charged in for
a takedown at the ropes, but Calvancante sprawled away to the
With Aoki still on his knees looking to complete the takedown,
Calvancante fired down elbow strikes. On the instant replay, it was
clear to see that the first strike landed legally on the upper part
of Aoki's shoulder blade. The second strike is a little more
suspect, coming down precariously close to the crevasse between the
Shooto champion's neck and shoulder.
"The elbow, it came to my body first, and then to the back of my
neck," Aoki said. "And then it seemed like all my power, all my
energy just started going down and then it became paralyzed."
At that point, Aoki began to crumple to the mat. Calvancante threw
a third final elbow, but its impact was clearly minimized as Aoki's
body was already traveling downward.
"I was doing the right thing for me," said JZ. "I'm not foolish.
I'm not going there and to do something wrong."
With Aoki lying prone on the mat, the referee paused the fight and
sent each athlete to his respective corner. The Japanese fighter's
corner was buzzing with activity while doctors and officials
assessed the injury and deliberated on whether to call the
"The first one I hit with the elbow," said the Brazilian. "The
second one was lighter. Accident. I'm not going to judge, and say
that I hit hard or not, or hit the neck or not. He knows about
After what seemed like an eternity, Aoki was still in visible pain
whenever he moved his right arm, and the decision was made to rule
the fight a no-contest at 3:46 of the first round.
"If I could raise my arm, I could have continued the game, and
that's what the doctor said," the Japanese lightweight asserted.
"But I could not raise my arm. So that's why I could not continue
with the fight."
In the ring, Aoki gave an emotional address to the fans, saying
that he had been waiting more than a year to get in the ring and
fight since the collapse of Pride. He promised to come back and
become the best in the world.
Dream top executive Keiichi Sasahara discussed the uncharted waters
that the two fighters now find themselves in, saying that he would
like to see a rematch, possibly in the next round, but that he'd
have to refer to the tournament officials for some kind of
decision. He also mentioned the possibility of Calvancante being
disqualified, thus pushing Aoki forward in the tournament.
"I want to fight him again," Calvancante said. "I asked for a
rematch. I want to continue in the tournament, so I hope they can
do it … they can figure out something."
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