“Kazushi Sakuraba UFC and MMA Hall of Famer”
Posted By: Baxter
Date Posted: July 5th, 2017.
On Thursday evening, the UFC will induct their “Class of 2017” into the UFC Hall-of-Fame. Despite having “UFC” on the marquee, the HOF have actually made significant strides to honor people from all over the MMA community. Although not perfect… FRANK SHAMROCK!? The HOF will honor Pride Fighting Championships PIONEER Kazushi Sakuraba!! From Pro Wrestling superstar to MMA Hall-of-Famer, SAKU ALWAYS entertained!! Out of the gate SAKU and Japanese visionaries captured the imagination with OVER THE TOP entrances and pageantry. Pre-fight theatrics aside, the often out sized SAKU displayed toughness and the will to overcome struggle!! LIFE LESSON!! SAKU could NEVER be counted out truly sacrificing himself for some memorable moments!! With “fighter safety” being ALL THE RAGE these days, SAKU is and will be a fighter that will not age “gracefully”. I mean DAMN, if you’ve watched him throughout his career its undeniable the physical transformation the body and not to mention the BRAIN has taken!! When we meet fighters I always say one thing… “Thank you for the sacrifices (in/out) you’ve made for MY enjoyment.” With that being said, we’ve decided to look at 15 SAKU fights that have entertained us over the years, ENJOY!!
I. x Ken Shamrock – Pride 30 – (10.23.2005) – CHUTE BOXE SAKU!! Ears and knees fully taped and ready to scrap!! Nothing at all happens until SAKU slips a DECENT left that CRACKS Shamrock. Ken turns and crashes to the mat, clipping his face off the 2nd rope on the way down. HILARIOUS!! In typical Shamrock fashion, the protest begins.
II. x Jason Miller – DREAM 16 – (09.25.2010) – It was no secret how BIG of a “mark” Mayhem was and is of SAKU, can you blame him? …Aren’t we all?! Although SAKU takes a beating straight up within two minutes, it’s the Respect and compassion Mayhem has for SAKU. The dude has an orange skunk stripe dyed into his hair for crying out loud!! Like most SAKU fights, Mayhem SMASHES down from to position before graciously cinching in the “arm-triangle choke”. An amazing scene post fight as Mayhem bows before the downed and partially out SAKU. An incredible post fight speech from Mayhem!! For the sport to grow stars need to be cultivated, young stars making a name (if done right) can be crucial in their success, this is a PRIME example.
III. x Wanderlei Silva – Pride 13 – (03.25.2001) – Traditionally Japanese crowds tend to be a lot more subdued in comparison to the North American audiences. JUST BLEED MMA!! Not on this night!! SAKU fans could be heard back in Brazil!! Cool pre-fight moment where MW Champion Tito Ortiz presents both guys with flowers. Wandy “no sells” it but, SAKU kisses Tito, LOVE this man!! SAKU come out GUNS BLAZING!! dropping Wandy early with a MONSTER right hand. SAKU marching forward looking for a finish, is BOMBARDED with vicious knees from Silva. In one of the most violent sequences you will see, Wandy UNLOADS grounded knees to the dome, soccer-kicks, stomps and MORE violent soccer-kicks!! JESUS MALONE!!
IV. x Zelg Galesic – DREAM 12 – (10.25.2009) – This was the FIRST and only few times DREAM would host a card inside of a cage, as apposed to the traditional ring. In a FURIOUS scramble on the ground, SAKU attempts an “Achilles-lock”, SAKU sacrificially eats a plethora of “ground and pound” from Galesic!! Violence ensues as Galesic rains down ground strikes, Guy Metzger pleads for SAKU to give up his position and strategy!! THEN, out of nowhere… SAKU adds to the legacy ripping off a “knee-bar” forcing Galesic to tap in a furry of SCREAMS!! SAKU Mother F**ck’n RABA!!
V. x Quinton Jackson – Pride 15 – (07.29.2001) – SAKU wearing a little pressure on his face pre-fight, a ton of facial expressions and deep breathing. No BS SAKU immediately snatches a leg and easily takes Rampage to the canvas, a WISE move!! In patented Rampage fashion, SAKU goes for the ride, slamming to the canvas holding onto the “triangle choke”. AGAIN and AGAIN SAKU eats RAMPAGE SLAM for breakfast not letting go of the “triangle”, UNREAL!! FOLKS this fight is BANANAS!! AGAIN same position, SAKU is hoisted into the air and basically out of the ring!! Teetering on the top rope, Rampage yanks Saku back into the ring and out of a DEEP “arm-bar” attempt. CROWD is INSANE!! SAKU smothering Rampage with submission attempts eventually claims his back and sinks in the RNC!! WHAT A FIGHT!! Go watch this one on Fight Pass.
VI. x Melvin Manhoef – DREAM 4 – (06.15.2008) – I remember thinking this was NOT going to be a great night for SAKU!! Manhoef was a KILLER!! Watching brief event highlights on dial-up internet days possibly weeks later. Melvin would TORCH Saku in under 2 minutes, a DREAM debut it was not!!
VII. x Renzo Gracie – Pride 10 – (08.27.2000) – Probably the quintessential SAKU fight!! What hasn’t been said about this fight?! Visions of Saku desperately clinging to the arm of Renzo as they crash to the canvas will be forever embedded into my memory!! Renzo’s elbow literally disintegrating, as THOUSANDS emphatically cheer on their dude!! The Seibu Dome is SO BEAUTIFUL!! #PrideNeverDie
VIII. x Katsuyori Shibata – HEROS 10 – (09.17.2007) – Shibata would become one of my favorite NJPW wrestlers, despite being heavily inexperienced x SAKU, Shibata came to fight!! GREAT pre-fight entrance from him. SAKU eats INCREDIBLY thunderous “ground and pound” OUCH!! SAKU weathers the storm and begins to DOMINATE Shibata!! SAKU follows up with his OWN TORNADO of “ground and pound” before, getting mount and the eventual “arm-bar” submission victory. Pro Wrestling was STRONG in this one!!
IX. x Marcus Silveira – UFC Japan – (12.21.1997) – The strangest entry on the list!! It now has become knowledge that brass really did not want their boy SAKU taking extreme damage. Saku was actually a replacement in the tournament and was SERIOUSLY outweighed. Prior to the fight, referee John McCarthy was aware of the circumstances. During the fight Saku would eat a few BIG strikes and shoot for a take-down. Big John interpreted this incorrectly and preemptively called an end to the fight… More to come.
X. x Shinya Aoki – Rizin FF SARABA – (12.29.15) – SAKU’s latest fight to date was REAL sad to watch as Baka Survivor Shinya Aoki basically turned him into a tube of paste!! Aoki relentless GNP bloodied the MMA vet into defeat. These dude are two of my favorite JMMA fighter all-time so it was ALL GOOD with me!! This has been SAKU’s most recent fight to date.
XI. x Vitor Belfort – Pride 5 – (04.29.1999) – This one is a CLUNKER, Vitor breaks his hand early in the fight on SAKU’s head!! SAKU would “wrestle-maul”, out strike and jumping foot stomp his way to the Unanimous Decision. Again, two of my favorite fighters all-time, ALL GOOD with me!!
XII. x Marcus Silveira – UFC Japan – (12.21.1997) – Hilariously, SAKU, brass and everyone involved would agree to another fight between SAKU and Silveria, SAKU in strict MMA fashion would make quick work of Silveria defeating him, becoming the UFC Ultimate Japan Heavyweight Tournament Champion.
XIII. x Nino Schembri – Pride 25 – (03.16.2003) – SAKU’s career is synonymous with submissions and comeback!! What I loved about SAKU’s fights, W or L they were going to most likely be pretty entertaining. Schembri shocked the Pride world finishing Saku with a barrage of knees!! A massive upset and GREAT call!!
XIV. x Kestutis Smirnovas – HEROS 6 – (03.12.2007) – This one is a CLASSIC!! Probably my favorite SAKU fight all-time!! After getting dominated for the majority of the fight, SAKU pulls a slick submission from beyond the grave!! INSANE come from behind win!! GO WATCH THIS FIGHT!! If you can’t find it, shoot me a message I’ll upload it.
XV. x Royce Gracie – Shockwave 2000 – (05.01.2000) – Known as the “Longest Fight” in modern MMA history, this 90 minute classic will NEVER be replicated again. A true war of cardio that would claim Royce, as he was unable to answer the bell for what would have the 7th… 15 minute round!!