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Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Shinya Aoki Reportedly Booked for Next DREAM Event

Kazushi Sakuraba Ricardo Arona photo eye face bloody MMA photos gallery
(Kazushi Sakuraba during his PRIDE glory days in 2005.)

By Elias Cepeda

When does a person not eagerly anticipate the next time one of his favorite fighters competes? When that fighter should have retired years ago due to the damage he’s endured over the years. That’s the way I’ve feel each time Kazushi Sakuraba gets a new match — not excited, but filled with genuine concern for his well-being. The legendary “Gracie Hunter” may be the best MMA fighter the warrior-nation of Japan has ever produced, but he’s lost four fights in a row, hasn’t won a bout since 2009, and has suffered enough beatings for 12 lifetimes. (This guy knows what I’m talking about.)

What makes Saku’s situation worse is that so many of his early losses were the result of savage abuse at the hands of much larger opponents (Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Cro Cop, Ricardo Arona, etc.), leaving him completely broken down at the age of 42. Sakuraba competed just once in 2011 — getting choked out at Dream 17 by unheralded Brazilian prospect Yan Cabral — and has yet to fight this year, while venturing back into pro wrestling just to stay active.

It is now being reported that Sakuraba will return to the ring at Dream’s next event, for a welterweight match against Shinya Aoki. If there’s a silver lining to rolling out Saku for another pay day, it’s that Aoki is foremost a grappler like Sakuraba, so it’s possible that we could see a technical wrestling and Jiu Jitsu match with minimal blunt strikes hitting the legend. Also, Bloody Elbow’s Anton Tabuena is reporting that the fight, now signed according to him, could be Sakuraba’s final MMA appearance.

Aoki is coming off of a TKO loss to Eddie Alvarez at Bellator 66 last month, but before that he was on a seven-fight win streak and is still considered a top fighter in the sport. Here’s hoping that Sakuraba makes it out of the Aoki fight without any new concussions.

And, just so as not to be a total Debbie Downer, enjoy some prime-form Sakuraba in the highlight video below:

Cagepotato Comments

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linzhanbz- May 12, 2012 at 9:38 am . . . . . . .
The12ozCurls- May 11, 2012 at 10:20 am
If you click on the "savage abuse" link, look down at the comments and there is one that simply says:
"Fuck you cage potato" -- awesome, just awesome. lol
DeadBodyCircus- May 11, 2012 at 9:58 am
the Japanese can rebuild him, they have the technology
linzhanby- May 11, 2012 at 9:21 am
Kaboom82- May 11, 2012 at 5:49 am
So who do you think they've chosen to win?
Belva Riddick- May 11, 2012 at 1:03 am
Here’s hoping that Sakuraba makes it out of the Aoki fight without any new concussions.
Clyde- May 10, 2012 at 3:36 pm
To be fair, Sakuraba will have a size advantage for once, and it's not like he doesn't know a thing or two about this whole "ground game" thing which I hear the kids are all into these days.
Kid Clam Curtains- May 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm
So not only will he have early onset pugilistic dementia but now he won't have fully operational limbs anymore either. Thanks Japan!