sakuraba[1]Kazushi Sakuraba

Fight to Watch: Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Zelg Galesic

The former Pride Fighting Championship superstar made a career out of taking on opponents beyond his physical means, often with good success. Sakuraba, a man credited with building Pride into the Asian MMA powerhouse it became, was known for taking on any and all comers, no matter how terrifying. Evidence of this can be found in any of his three stoppage losses to Wanderlei Silva.

Sakuraba was not just a punching bag, however, as he captured wins in most of his outings, often again facing the likes of larger opponents. During ‘Saku’s early career, he took on the much larger, surging Brazilian heavyweight Marcus ‘Conan’ Silvera. ‘Conan’ was fresh off dominant wins in Extreme Fighting and considered one of the best heavyweights in the world, while Sakuraba – weighing around  200 pounds – remained largely unknown. After a controversial ending to their first bout, Sakuraba secured an arm bar in the rematch between the two, held the same night at UFC Japan.

Further evidence of Sakuraba’s toughness comes in bouts with Quinton Jackson, the war of attrition he had in his first bout with Royce Gracie, and in a more recent outing, his knee bar win over Zelg Galesic. Sakuraba absorbed inhuman amounts of punishment from the striker as he worked towards his favored knee bar, eventually securing the tap.

The bout was just one of many that proved why ‘The Gracie Hunter’ is as tough as they come.