Legendary Japanese fighter, Kazushi Sakuraba, is a very familiar name to most hardcore fans, but there are many new fans that may have never seen the former Pride star grapple his way to the top of the sport several years ago, and many fighters today still talk about the “Gracie Hunter” and his fights.
Two of the fighters who proudly claim Sakuraba as their favorite are WEC featherweight, Urijah Faber, and UFC fighter, Stephan Bonnar, who both mentioned the Japanese fighter when speaking to fans at a recent Q&A session.
“I would say past or present, favorite fighter for me is Sakuraba,” Faber said when asked who his favorite fighter was. “If you watch the guy, first off he’s a wrestler, a top level wrestler, but he really has a great attitude out there. He’s always out in front, really, really creative, and he’s been in one of the most inspiring fights that I’ve ever seen.”
The fight that Faber referenced was Sakuraba’s last fight against Zelg Galesic, in which he pulled off a kneebar after suffering damage throughout the fight. Faber also mentioned Sakuraba’s historic 2000 no-time limit win over Royce Gracie as a favorite performance.
Stephan Bonnar went one step further when paying tribute to the former Pride star.
“I love that guy, I even named my cat after him,” said Bonnar.
The ageless Sakuraba continues to come up in conversations when fighters mention who they admire most, and for anyone that isn’t sure about how good he really is, go back and watch his 2000 fight against Renzo Gracie, but don’t expect to hold down your lunch when you see the finish.