(“I am pussy, okay?! Rrrrrrowww!” — Kazushi Sakuraba)
A couple weeks back, we put a fight between Kazushi “The Gracie Hunter” Sakuraba and jiu-jitsu uber-guru Rickson Gracie as the #1 Greatest Fight That Never Happened. Well, if Inside Fights is to be believed, then the most long-awaited grudge match in history may actually have a shot of coming together. From an article posted yesterday:
K-1′s Dynamite!! 2007 card has come and gone and one thing that is for sure is that Kazushi Sakuraba isn’t even thinking about retiring. A lot of the pre-fight hype before the Sakuraba/Funaki showdown amongst MMA insiders was the apparent need for Sakuraba—deteriorated he is—to call it a career after this dream match. Well, Sakuraba for the most part dominated the former Pancrase legend submitting him in 6:25, but mentioned nothing about retirement in his post-fight interviews.
With Rickson Gracie’s appearance at one of HERO’S’ Yokohama Arena shows this year, the impossible seems almost possible: a fight between Rickson and The Gracie Killer himself. Long looked at as the Sakuraba/Gracie fight that would forever be part of fantasy warfare amongst MMA fans, this match may in fact take place in 2008. Had it happened in 2000, it would’ve likely broken attendance records, now it’ll be something that fans of the two and fans of the sport can give thanks for, if it in fact does happen.
The possible matchup was also discussed in an interview with K-1 Media following Sakuraba’s armbar win over Masakatsu Funaki:
Asked about FEG Event Producer Sadaharu Tanikawa’s call for a Sakuraba vs. Rickson Gracie fight next year, Sakuraba replied, “I’m up for it. I’ve never fought him, but I can only think of one fight at a time. This was a good year and I was relatively uninjured, so I’d like next year to be like that!”
For the record, Gracie is 49 years old and hasn’t fought professionally since May 2000. Since then, 38-year-old Sakuraba has gone 14-8 with one no-contest, including wins over Renzo and Ryan Gracie in 2000, and a loss last year to Royce. You’d have to give Sakuraba the edge due to ring experience, but people worship Rickson like he’s Yoda, so we wouldn’t throw money down either way. At this point, nobody knows if Rickson Gracie is even considering a return from retirement — but we’re guessing that Mark Cuban is already trying to lock down the fight on HDNet.