MMA legend signs with New Japan Pro Wrestling
Japanese MMA legend returns to Puroresu.
According to F4WOnline.com, legendary mixed martial arts fighter Kazushi Sakuraba has signed a deal with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW).
Sakuraba is arguably the greatest Japanese fighter of all-time, who sucessfully transitioned from pro wrestling in UWFi to MMA in Pride Fighting Championships. He is best known as "the Gracie Killer," with wins over Royce, Renzo, Royler, and Ryan Gracie.
He has been done for a while as a great fighter, but continued to compete well past his prime, taking unnecessary damage in the process. He has lost four straight fights.
Pro wrestling isn't exactly ballet, but it should at least be easier on Sakuraba's body. Although given the injuries he's suffered through the years and how often he's used in NJPW, only time will tell.
If used as a special attraction, much like Undertaker or The Rock in WWE, he could be a major draw for NJPW--and that can only help the promotion provide more exposure to top stars like Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada.
Should Sakuraba call it quits in sport of MMA for good, he ends his career with a professional record of 26-16-1 (2) and one hell of a legacy.
Fast Facts about Sakuraba:
- UFC Japan Heavyweight Tournament Winner (1997)
- Notable wins over Gracies, Guy Mezger, Vitor Belfort, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Ken Shamrock, Carlos Newton, and Kevin Randleman
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Famer (2004)
Check out our interview with Japanese MMA legend Guy Mezger: