In the latest fight added to an already stellar card, former UFC Middleweight Champion Murilo Bustamante will battle Olympic gold medallist in judo, Makoto Takimoto, on New Year's Eve at "Yarennoka!"
After Brazilian Top Team all but dissolved this past summer, Bustamante, one of its founders, will look to affirm that BTT is still one of the top camps in MMA.
At 41, Bustamante (14-6-1) is an aging veteran of the sport, but he, like Randy Couture, has managed to maintain his standing among the elite as he has grown older. He is a four-time Brazilian champion in jiu-jitsu and also a World Champion in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His ground game is among the best of all middleweights.
Bustamante holds victories over Ryuta Sakurai (twice), Matt "The Law" Lindland, Dave Menne and Ikuhisa "The Punk" Minowa, among others. He advanced to the finals of the 2005 PRIDE Welterweight (183 pounds) tournament at Shockwave 2005, where he lost a very close decision to "Dangerous" Dan Henderson. He has won two fights in a row, with the second over Sakurai.
Takimoto is 3-3 in his MMA career, but does hold two notable victories, in defeating Dong Sik Yoon at PRIDE 30 and highly-touted Zelg "Benkei" Galesić (once referred to as "Little Cro Cop") at PRIDE 34. He is an excellent submission fighter, and one who can compete with Bustamante on the ground.
Bustamante has excelled against Japanese competition throughout his career, but Takimoto has fared best against fellow grapplers, so this battle has all of the makings of a submission classic.
Bustamante vs Takimoto is the second middleweight duel on the card, after it was previously announced that #9- and #10-ranked middleweights Kazuo "Grabaka Hitman" Misaki and Yoshihiro Akiyama will also do battle.
"Yarennoka!" still promises to be the greatest mixed martial arts event to date, and only gets better with each new fight announced.