by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz will return to action on May 29, facing Japanese heavy hitter Hayato “Mach” Sakurai, according to GracieFighter.com, the web site of Diaz’s trainer and manager, Cesar Gracie.
GracieFighter.com says that the bout will take place under the fighter sharing partnership between Strikeforce and Dream. A Diaz rematch with Dream champion Marius Zaromskis for his belt was under consideration, according to the report.
The Japanese promotion instead decided to match Diaz up with Sakurai, who is an extremely popular fighter in his native land.
Diaz welcomed the bout, saying, “Good, I’ve been trying to fight this guy for a long time now.”
Diaz (21-7) hasn’t lost since he faced K.J. Noons for EliteXC in late 2007. He has racked up six straight victories since that time, including his most recent win, capturing the vacant Strikeforce welterweight title in a bout against Zaromskis in January.
Sakurai (35-10-2) hasn’t faired as well recently losing back-to-back bouts to Akihiro Gono and Zaromskis.
The two had originally been expected to fight two years ago at Dream 5 for the inaugural Dream welterweight championship, but the bout never came to fruition.