Antonio Banuelos (right) will fight at Dream 17. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood


Former WEC title contender Antonio Banuelos has apparently thrown his hat into Dream's ring, as the fighter Thursday announced he had signed on to compete in the Japanese promotion's upcoming bantamweight world grand prix.

Banuelos is the sixth confirmed participant for the tournament, which begins Sept. 24 at Dream 17. Emanating from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, the event will also feature Hideo Tokoro, Masakazu Imanari, Kenji Osawa, Rodolfo Marques Diniz and Bibiano Fernandes in the tournament draw. No quarterfinal matchups have been announced.

Dream 17 will also showcase several non-tournament bouts in addition to the grand prix field, as lightweight champion Shinya Aoki will lock horns with former WEC titleholder Rob McCullough. Additionally, Takeshi Inoue will meet Caol Uno at featherweight and Satoru Kitaoka will confront Willamy Freire in a lightweight affair.

Banuelos was recently cut from the UFC after only one Octagon performance. The 31-year-old was defeated by Miguel Torres in a lackluster UFC 126 bout in February, marking his second loss in three fights. Known as a WEC staple, Banuelos competed 14 times for the promotion since beginning his career in 2001. A product of The Pit, Banuelos holds seven of his 18 career victories by knockout.

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