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"The Gracie Hunter"

Kazushi Sakuraba

26Wins17Losses1Draw2No Contests

Win Rate
57 %
Finish Rate
77 %
Decision Win %
43 %

Kazushi Sakuraba

Age
52
Height
6' 0 (183 cm)
Reach
74 in. (6' 2/187 cm)
Ape-Index
1.022
Stance
Southpaw
Nationality
Japan
Main Division
Middleweight
Biography
After being convinced against dropping out of high school to pursue professional wrestling, Sakuraba began a career in amateur wrestling at the age of 15, hoping to gain a useful background to achieve his childhood dream. A high school stand-out, he finished as high as second in the nation before joining the freestyle wrestling squad of Chuo University, a team which had counted Olympic gold medalists Shozo Sasahara and Osamu Watanabe amongst its ranks. He won the East Japan Freshman championship in his first year and served as their team captain thereafter. Amongst his notable wins was one over future Olympic bronze medalist Takuya Ota. Upon graduating from college, Sakuraba initially thought about remaining with Chuo University as a coach.
Combat Approach
He employed moves and techniques from professional wrestling, among them spinning sole kicks, jumping stomps, Mongolian chops and baseball slides. Though he wasn't afraid of giving his back to his opponent in order to secure it, Sakuraba would also use the technique as a positional weapon, threatening with it to control his adversary. Renzo Gracie praised his ability to play against his opponent's weaknesses, Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira commended his technical skill, and Mark Kerr called him the world's best technician of his era.
Fighter Trivia
He has never cared much about diet and admits to drinking alcohol and being a smoker. Regarding the notable differences in weight between himself and his opponents throughout his career, as well as the banning of IV's for rehydration , Sakuraba has stated through an interpreter that "it doesn't matter if they use a pill or medicine to get bigger or smaller, I just train hard, eat healthy, fight at my weight and try my best to beat them. For me it doesn't matter if they use drugs, but I would not use it. I'm sure it's bad if they use it to win." In June 2021, Sakuraba was a torch bearer for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Awards & Accolades

  • Pride Fighting Championships: 2000 Pride Openweight Grand Prix semi-finalist
  • Pride Fighting Championships: Longest fight in Pride FC history – Pride Grand Prix 2000 Finals (90:00)
  • Pride Fighting Championships: First man to defeat Royce Gracie in MMA history
  • Pride Fighting Championships: First Japanese Athlete to defeat a Gracie since Helio Gracie's 1951 loss to Masahiko Kimura.
  • Pride Fighting Championships: Tied with Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira for the most submission wins (11) in Pride FC history
  • UFC: UFC Hall of Fame (Pioneer wing, class of 2017)
  • UFC: UFC Japan Heavyweight Tournament winner
  • UFC: First Japanese champion in UFC history
  • Sherdog: Mixed Martial Arts Hall of Fame
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 2004)
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 2001 Best Box Office Draw
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 2001 Feud of the Year (vs. Wanderlei Silva)
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 2000 Best Shootfighter
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 2000 Best Shoot Match (vs. Royce Gracie)
  • Tokyo Sports: Most Valuable Player (2000)
  • Tokyo Sports: Outstanding Performance (1999)
  • Kingdom: Kingdom One Million Yen Tournament (1997)
  • Nikkan Sports: Outstanding Performance Award (1999)
  • Nikkan Sports: Wrestler of the Year (2000)
  • Pro Wrestling Illustrated: Ranked No. 238 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2017
  • Pro Wrestling Noah: GHC Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Takashi Sugiura
  • Tokyo Sports: Best Tag Team Award (2020) – with Takashi Sugiura

Twitter Timeline

Fighter Videos

 

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ResultRes. RecordRec. Opponent Odds+/- Result Method Result Detail Round Last Round Time Opponent Birthplace Fight Date Video Link Opponent Ranking Event Name Last 10 fights Judge 1 Name Judge 1 Scores Judge 2 Name Judge 2 Scores Judge 3 Name Judge 3 Scores

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