K-1 on Tuesday announced the first official bout for its Dec. 31 Premium 2007 Dynamite!! event in Osaka, Japan, where Japanese mixed martial arts legends Kazushi Sakuraba and Masakatsu Funaki will face each other.
Sakuraba will be returning to action for the first time since defeating a student of Funaki’s, Katsuyori Shibata, on the K-1 Hero’s Sept. 17 event in Yokohama. He is noted for wins over such MMA luminaries as Ken Shamrock, Royce Gracie, and current Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder Quinton Jackson.
Like Sakuraba, Funaki is a product of the UWFi professional wrestling organization. He is also one of the co-founders, along with Minoru Suzuki, of the Japanese MMA organization Pancrase. He hasn’t competed in MMA in more than seven years, when he lost to Rickson Gracie by rear naked choke.
Following his win over Shibata, Sakuraba called out Rickson Gracie, leading many to believe that the two would be named to fight on Dec. 31. It is believed that Gracie is still likely to compete at Premium 2007 Dynamite!!, but his participation has not been officially confirmed.