It was announced several days ago that mixed martial arts legends Dan “Hendo” Henderson and Kazushi “The Gracie Hunter” Sakuraba will square off at Rizin Fighting Federation’s upcoming Rizin FF 7 event on October 15th in Fukuoka, Japan’s Marine Messe Fukuoka arena. They will be competing in a special submission grappling exhibition match.
Both Sakuraba and Henderson are veterans of the old Japanese Pride Fighting Championships promotion and they are both very accomplished fighters who have won countless championships and accolades. Sakuraba in particular is considered to be an icon of Japanese professional fighting, both in mixed martial arts and puroresu (professional wrestling).
Both men are very skilled grapplers as well. Henderson was an outstanding Greco-Roman amateur wrestler and even competed in the Olympics. Sakuraba is well-known for being an expert in the catch-as-catch can submission wrestling style which was brought to Japan by Billy Robinson and Karl Gotch. Sakuraba has been labeled as “The Gracie Hunter” because he holds victories over a handful of members of the legendary Gracie Family, who perfected the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Henderson was both the last Middleweight Champion and the last Welterweight Champion of Pride FC before it closed down, and he was also the last Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion. Sakuraba is a UFC Hall of Famer and was the first man to defeat the iconic Royce Gracie in a mixed martial arts fight. Sakuraba also won the 1997 UFC Ultimate Japan Heavyweight Tournament.