(Bibiano Fernandes and Joe Warren, courtesy of Dreamofficial.com.)
Before every major card, FIGHT! will pick one non-title bout we feel represents the greatest potential risk and reward for the participants. Whether a win means a title shot or loss means a one way ticket home, we’ve deemed this match the FIGHT! of the Night.
On Oct. 6, Dream will crown its featherweight grand prix champion. The winner will have to advance through his semifinal match on the same night, which means that whoever’s holding the belts at the end of the night (or middle of the morning if you’re watching it stateside) will have to be more skilled, better conditioned, and luckier than his opponents. But win or lose in the championship round, I think the guys who stand to gain or lose the most on Tuesday are Bibiano Fernandes and Joe Warren.
Fernandes vs. Warren makes up half of the remaining featherweight draw. Fernandes defeated DEEP veteran Masakazu Imanari in the GP quarterfinals but his only other signature fights were losses to Urijah Faber and “Kid” Yamamoto in King of the Cage and K-1 Hero’s, respectively. Joe Warren has only two fights under his belt, but the 2006 Greco-Roman wrestling world champion made both count, notching a stoppage victory over Chase Beebe in the opening round of the featherweight Grand Prix and split decision over Yamamoto in the quarterfinals.
Warren is an MMA neophyte, taking crash courses with Dan Henderson’s Team Quest and Faber’s Team Alpha Male to shore up his technical knowledge. He’ll need it against two-time Mundials champion Fernandes, who like many brilliant jiu jitsu practicioners has had less success in MMA than he enjoyed in sport grappling.
A win by either would represent a big swing; for Warren it would be a win over someone assumed to be a technically superior fighter. For Fernandes it would be a signature win in a career short on them. And of course the last man standing gets a crack at the dual Dream title belts.
On the other hand, a loss for Warren would derail the hype train and expose whatever deficiencies exist in his game, decreasing his value to American promoters looking for marketable featherweights (WEC? Strikeforce?). A loss for Fernandes could relegate him to opponent status, a journeyman picking up small checks in small promotions.
HDNet will broadcast Dream.11 live starting at 5 a.m. EST on Tues., Oct. 6.
That’s our two cents. What’s your pick for FIGHT! of the Night?