Kazushi Sakuraba has Open UFC Invitation from Dana White

February 24, 2012
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Kazushi Sakuraba and Ricardo Arona PrideKazushi Sakuraba has definitely seen better days in his fighting career, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not wanted.

UFC president Dana White counts “the Gracie Hunter” among his favorites.

Although he wasn’t exactly sure if Sakuraba would be in attendance when the UFC returns to Japan this weekend to run its first event there in 12 years, White extended an open invitation. All Sakuraba has to do is say the word and he’s got a seat at UFC 144 at Saitama Super Arena.

No, he’s not inviting Sakuraba to compete in the Octagon, although he surely would if times were different.

“One of my favorite fighters ever, Kazushi Sakuraba, is a guy who I think should have fought in a different weight class, fought way too far outside of his weight class,” White commented following Thursday’s UFC 144 Pre-Fight Press Conference.

“It would have been interesting to see, if Sakuraba was in the right weight class and in the right organization, what that guy would have been able to do.”

Kazushi Sakuraba PrideKazushi Sakuraba fought everywhere from welterweight on up to light heavyweight. In fact, he even fought several times in open weight tournaments competing against heavyweights.

He event fought under the UFC banner when the promotion ventured to Yokohama in 1997.

Having been bloodied and brutalized by much larger opponents for a significant portion of his career, Sakuraba, while still active, has long passed on from being a top competitor. Losing six of his eight most recent fights, he’s riding his career into the sunset.

Sakuraba isn’t going to finish his legendary run as a fighter in the UFC, but he is, as Dana White said, more than welcome to come to this weekend’s event as an honored guest of the UFC president.

  • Danjitsu

    Saku is one of the greatest of all time. For health reasons, I would have liked to have seen him fight more guys his own size. As far as his legacy goes though, that is one of the things that makes him one of the all time greats – the fact that he took on so many of these monsters, and often times won. It was not just about belts and wins/losses in Japan – and Saku embodied the warrior spirit.

  • ChiTown420

    I agree but at this point there is no way you can justify him coming to the ufc. His ear might fall of again but this time on fox, but i remember dana saying he is not in the business in putting on freak shows and this is what it feels like. If he loved him so much he should have been in the UFC along long time ago. Dana needs to get off his high horse and do a Pride style production the place would sell out easy and ratings would be huge.Never going to happen i kno

    • Lesnardo

      Saku was one of the guys Dana White sought after when he was hot. Dana was open to PRIDE cross-promotion. He wanted Saku vs Tito Ortiz badly.

      Saku did fight in the wrong weight class but back then welterweights didn’t get any attention. You were either a heavyweight or a middleweight (LHW). And Saku, weighing in at 190lbs, fought monsters like Cro Cop, Wanderlei, Rampage, Randleman, Vitor Belfort, Arona, and Lil Nog.

  • sc_b2d2b36387de52b16ba60677030f554e

    Misleading headline is misleading.

  • Prodigy815

    All time great