If you’re new to MMA and have never heard of Kazushi Sakuraba, well, my friend, that needs to change.
Long before fighters like Ronda Rousey and Jon Jones were dominating the sport, MMA’s biggest star was likely Sakuraba, due to his ridiculous level of popularity in Japan and abroad.
The pro-wrestler and dangerous submission artist defeated Marcus Silveira way back when at UFC 15.5, but it was his storied run in PRIDE that made him a MMA legend. Not only did Sakuraba defeat fellow pioneers like Royce Gracie, Royler Gracie and Renzo Gracie, but he also scored wins over names like Vitor Belfort and “Rampage” Jackson. Unfortunately, Sakuraba continued to be matched up against far bigger opponents, and he was brutalized by the likes of Wanderlei Silva, Ricardo Arona and Mirko “Cro Cop”, among others.
Sakuraba, who is now 45, fought for the last time 2011.
Well, UFC Fight Pass has produced a show titled “Pioneers of MMA: Kazushi Sakuraba“, which outlines the historic rise of the showman and fighter. You can watch the preview below.