RIZIN FF, the combat sports promotion led by former PRIDE FC head Nobuyuki Sakakibara, announced today that legendary Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) pioneer and former professional wrestling standout Kiyoshi Tamura (32-13-3), will join forces with fellow decorated icon Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC) in the special grappling tag team matchup that will headline the highly-anticipated, star-studded extravaganza in Nagoya Japan, on Sunday, April 17.
The affair marks the first time since December 31, 2008 that the 5-foot-11, 46-year-old Tamura, recognized for his elite level catch wrestling skills and quick, fluid movements, will see action in combat.
In his last start under MMA rules on the K-1 – Dynamite!! New Year’s Eve mega-card in Saitama, Japan, Tamura earned his third consecutive win, a unanimous decision over Sakuraba.
While competing for the likes of PRIDE, K-1, Rings, DREAM and UWF International, Tamura compiled an extensive resume of conquests, including those over eventual UFC champions Pat Miletich, Maurice Smith and Dave Menne, as well as superstars Renzo Gracie and Jeremy Horn.
Tamura was groomed by famed pro wrestling trainers Billy Robinson, Nobuhiko Takada and Akira Maeda, to eventually become a force in the sport’s middleweight division. In his final bout before retirement, Tamura notched a victory over fellow hybrid MMA star and professional wrestler Josh Barnett, on November 23, 2005.
In other action on the star-studded fight card, 13-fight UFC veteran and action fighter Daron Cruickshank (16-8, 1 NC) will collide with submission expert Shinji “Torao Supernova” Sasaki (16-8-3) in a lightweight (155 pounds) matchup.
In a women’s open weight bout, decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion and women’s MMA heavyweight prospect Gabi Garcia (1-0) will collide with two-time Pankration champion Anna Malyukova (1-0).
Hard-hitting knockout artists Chris “Huggy Bear” Barnett (14-2) and Kirill Sidelnikov (8-4) will go to war in a heavyweight battle.
Recent RIZIN FF Grand Prix tournament semifinalist Teodoras Aukstuolis (8-3) will square off with former K-1 champion Jaideep “Heart” Singh (2-1 MMA; 40-10, 13 KO’s kickboxing) in a 216- pound catchweight fight.
Sambo world champion Vadim Nemkov (5-1) will take on undefeated, aggressive-minded striker and top Nordic prospect “King” Karl Albrektsson(4-0) in a light heavyweight (205 pounds) tilt.
In a 180-pound MMA rules catchweight contest, devastating power puncher Hisaki Kato (5-2) will take on fellow finisher Yuta “Andre” Watanabe (19-6-4).
Returning to action for the first time in five years, beloved heavyweight Kazuyuki “Ol’ Ironhead” Fujita (15-10), will face recent RIZIN FF Grand Prix tournament runner-up and dangerous knockout artist Jiri “Denisa” Prochazka(16-3-1).
In flyweight (125 pounds) action, submission ace Allan “Puro Osso” Nascimento (14-3) will lock horns with red-hot champion Yuki Motoya (15-4, 1 NC).
Women’s amateur wrestling champion Kanako Murata (0-0) will make her highly-anticipated, professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) debut against rising star Natalya Denisova (2-1) in a 116-pound catchweight affair.