(“Yeah, I have a question for the group: Is anybody *not* getting too old for this shit?” / Photo via Sherdog)
A pair of former PRIDE champions will be anchoring the UFC’s return to Japan. As confirmed by the promotion yesterday, UFC on FUEL 8 is slated for Sunday, March 3rd, at the Saitama Super Arena, with Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann booked for the main event. [Update: The fight will take place at light-heavyweight.] Both men are coming off of decision losses, with Silva dropping his rematch to Rich Franklin at UFC 147 in June, and Stann losing to Michael Bisping in September.
Though Silva probably has little recollection of the last time he competed in Saitama, the Axe Murderer became an MMA superstar in Japan, where he went undefeated through his first 20 fights in PRIDE and held the middleweight title for over five years. But his current stint in the UFC — where he’s won just three of eight fights since 2007 — has suggested that Silva is nearing the end of the road, and his next bad loss could be his last. Can he come up with another heroic effort against the All American?
Speaking of PRIDE legends, longtime lightweight champ Takanori Gomi will be welcoming Diego Sanchez back to the lightweight division at UFC on FUEL 8. Gomi has won his last two UFC fights against Eiji Mitsuoka and Mac Danzig, while Sanchez is coming off a decision defeat against Jake Ellenberger in February. Sanchez hasn’t competed at 155 pounds since being utterly shredded by BJ Penn during their lightweight title fight three years ago.
Pretty damn good for a free card, right? Keep in mind that the event will also feature the heavyweight battle between Mark Hunt and Stefan Struve, plus the following newly-announced supporting bouts…
Riki Fukuda vs. Brad Tavares (MW): Tavares is on a two-fight win streak with decisions against Dongi Yang and Tom Watson, while Fukuda retired Tom DeBlass in his last appearance.
Cristiano Marcello vs. Kazuki Tokudome (LW): Though he entered the UFC through TUF: Live, Cristiano Marcello may be best known as the guy who choked out Krazy Horse Bennett backstage at a PRIDE event. (He also competed once in PRIDE, losing a decision to Mitsuhiro Ishida in 2006.) Fresh off a decision win against Reza Madadi, he’ll be facing Tokodune, an 11-3 Pancrase vet who will be making his UFC debut.
Takeya Mizugaki vs. Bryan Caraway (BW): Mizugaki, the longtime WEC/UFC vet who is due for a defeat based on his incredibly consistent habit of alternating between wins and losses, will be facing Miesha’s Tate arm-candy Bryan Caraway, who has submitted Dustin Neace and Mitch Gagnon since his stint on TUF 14.
Alex Caceres vs. Kyung Ho Kang (BW): With back-to-back victories over Damacio Page and Motonobu Tezuka — and shout-outs from Ben Henderson himself — things have been looking up for the former yard-fighter known as “Bruce Leroy.” He’ll be welcoming Road FC champ Kyung Ho Kang into the Octagon.