The featherweight (145 pounds/66 kilograms) submission specialist faces ‘Ferocious’ Fiona Muxlow (6-1) of Queensland, Australia. Like Coenen, the majority of Muxlow’s wins have been by way of submission and she is riding a three-fight winning streak.
“I’m so excited to fight at the most anticipated event of the year in Japan. GSI is producing DREAM on New Year’s Eve and it’s great that they have a female fight so prominently on the card. On the other side of the world there’s also a highly-anticipated female fight coming up, so I’m really happy that women are getting the attention that they deserve,” says Coenen.
“Knowing that I already submitted one half of the UFC’s first-ever female fight, I’m keen on testing myself here in the Far East where martial arts started. I’m still one of the world’s top females and have been ever since winning my first world title in Japan in 2000. I’m strong in my mission to dominate the women’s MMA world.”
Coenen fought for the highly successful all-female US promotion Invicta FC in her last outing, taking a unanimous decision win over Romy Ruyssen. In her three fights before that she won, defended and then lost the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight championship that was most recently held by Ronda Rousey until her move to the UFC several weeks ago.
Rousey’s first defense of the UFC title will be against Liz Carmouche in February. Coincidentally that was also the first opponent that Coenen faced after winning the Strikeforce title. Coenen submitted Carmouche with a triangle choke in the fourth round of their fight in March last year.
New Year’s Eve will be Coenen’s 15th fight in Japan, having spent the first half of her career fighting in front of audiences in Tokyo and Shizuoka. By contrast Muxlow has spent her entire career fighting in her native Australia apart from one trip to neighboring New Zealand for a fight in June last year. Muxlow fought in October this year and took a unanimous decision win.
In the main event of DREAM 18, which represents one-half of the ‘GSI presents DREAM 18 and GLORY 4 Tokyo – New Year’s Eve Special’ double-header fight card, former DREAM lightweight (155 pounds/70 kilograms) champion Shinya Aoki (31-6) will face battle-tested wrestling specialist Antonio McKee (28-4-2). Heavy hitters Melvin Manhoef (26-9-1, 1 NC) and Denis Kang (35-15-2, 2 NC) will face off at middleweight (185 pounds/84 kilograms) and former DREAM bantamweight (135 pounds/61 kilograms) champion Bibiano Fernandes (12-3) will square off with Yoshiro Maeda (30-11-2) in a 139-pound/61-kilogram catchweight contest. Former world No. 1 lightweight Tatsuya ‘Crusher’ Kawajiri (31-7-2) will face Judo specialist Michihiro Omigawa (13-12-1) at featherweight (145 pounds/66 kilograms).
All-time great Hayato ‘Mach’ Sakurai (38-12-2) will meet hard-hitting brawler ‘New York Bad Ass’ Phil Baroni (15-15) in a welterweight (170 pounds/77 kilograms) affair. DREAM Featherweight Champion Hiroyuki Takaya (17-9-1) will collide with standout Georgi Karakhanyan (19-3-1) and Satoru Kitaoka (30-11-9) will battle undefeated rising star Will ‘Ill Will’ Brooks (7-0) at lightweight.
GSI presents DREAM 18 and GLORY 4 Tokyo – New Year’s Eve Special will commence at 4 p.m. JST with the DREAM 18 card and continue with the GLORY 4 Tokyo – Heavyweight Grand Slam, one-night 16-man single-elimination tournament featuring the world’s top heavyweight stand-up fighters, including world No. 1 ranked Semmy Schilt (39-6, 18 KO’s), Gokhan Saki (77-15, 53 KO’s), Daniel Ghita (44-7, 34 KO’s), Remy Bonjasky (77-14, 40 KO’s), Peter Aerts (104-30-1, 78 KO’s), Errol Zimmerman (76-16-1, 41 KO’s), Anderson ‘Braddock’ Silva (32-8-1, 22 KO’s) and Sergei Kharitonov (22-7, 12 KO’s).
The winner of the heavyweight tournament will take home a Grand Prize of $400,000, and a total of $600,000 in prize money will be awarded to tournament participants.