(How Sakuraba earned his nickname. Props: Jermac2009)
It looks like DREAM will try to borrow some heat from an old Pride-era rivalry to build up its next show. The leading Japanese fight club held a press conference earlier today at Kazushi Sakuraba‘s Laughter7 gym in Tokyo, where it was announced that Sakuraba would return later this month at DREAM.14 (May 29th, Saitama), against Ralek Gracie. The son of UFC co-founder Rorion Gracie and third-eldest grandson of Helio Gracie, Ralek is an instructor at the Gracie Academy Headquarters in Torrance, and is 2-0 as an MMA competitor; he holds wins over Katsuyori Shibata and Alavutdin Gadzhiyev, both by first-round armbar.
In Sakuraba, Ralek will be facing his family’s most well-known nemesis. During his legendary run in Pride, Saku went 4-0 against the Gracie clan, submitting Royler and Renzo, scoring a decision over Ryan, and making Royce quit after 90 minutes of fighting at the 2000 Grand Prix Finals. (Sakuraba lost a 2007 rematch with Royce at K-1 Dynamite!! USA by decision, though the UFC pioneer tested positive for steroids after the match.) Sakuraba has won his last two fights in DREAM — a first-round kimura over boxer Rubin Williams, and a first-round kneebar against Zelg Galesic, which he secured after taking an ungodly amount of punishment.
DREAM.14′s current lineup and videos of Ralek’s two MMA fights are after the jump…
88kg (194lb.) Catchweight Fight
Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Ralek Gracie
Nick Diaz vs. Hayato “Mach” Sakurai
Possible DREAM Light Heavyweight GP Opening Round, Fighters TBA
(Gracie vs. Shibata)
(Gracie vs. Alavutdin)