Kazuo Misaki has signed a two-fight contract to fight for the California-based Strikeforce promotion. Strikeforce vice president Mike Afromowitz confirmed the signing to MMAWeekly on Saturday.
He said that the contract was exclusive to Strikeforce in North America, but that Misaki would still be able to fight other promotions elsewhere, including Japan, where he has spent the majority of his career. The contract also provides for an option following the fulfillment of the two-fight agreement.
No date has been set for Misaki’s promotional debut, but Afromowitz said it would likely be sometime this summer. It’s too soon to name his first opponent, but Strikeforce has several solid middleweight fighters to match with Misaki, including current champion Frank Shamrock, as well as contenders Cung Le and Joe Riggs.
Currently ranked as the No. 7 middleweight fighter in the world, Misaki defeated Denis Kang in November of 2006 to win the Pride Welterweight Grand Prix.
Following his Grand Prix victory, he lost his next bout to Frank Trigg in Las Vegas. He seemed to bounce back at the Dec. 31, 2007, Yarennoka event where he knocked out Yoshihiro Akiyama with a kick to the head. It was later ruled, however, that Akiyama was a downed opponent at the time of impact and the decision was changed to a no contest.
Misaki recently competed on the debut event of World Victory Road in March, where he submitted highly touted fighter Siyar Bahadurzada by guillotine choke.