Kazushi Sakuraba Returns At Dream.11In a last-minute addition to tomorrow’s card, Japanese legend Kazushi “The Gracie Hunter” Sakuraba has been added to Heiwa Dream.11 and will face professional boxer Rubin Williams, who is making his mixed martial arts debut.

The bout will be Sakuraba’s first since dropping a Unanimous Decision to fellow Japanese star Kiyoshi Tamura over nine months ago at K-1 Dynamite!! 2008 on New Year’s Eve.


Sakuraba (24-12-1, 2 NC) has faced a who’s who of the mixed martial arts world over his storied career, but he knows that his time in the sport is rapidly coming to an end. The bout with Williams could be dangerous if Sakuraba opts to trade strikes with the boxer, but Sakuraba should have little trouble in taking the fight to the ground.

Williams sports a 29-8-1 record as a professional boxer and is best known for his time on the reality show “The Contender.” He once challenged Jeff Lacy for the IBF Super Middleweight Championship.


Fans have openly implored Sakuraba to retire for years, dating all the way back to his third knockout loss to Wanderlei Silva, but Sakuraba is still a very talented fighter and aims to please the crowd with each performance.

Among Sakuraba’s many notable victories are wins over Vernon White, Carlos Newton, Vitor Belfort, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Kevin Randleman, Ken Shamrock and Masakatsu Funaki.

However, he is most famous for his four victories over members of the Gracie family – Royler, Royce, Renzo and Ryan, respectively – which earned him the nickname “The Gracie Hunter.” The first bout with Royce was a historic one, as special rules stated that the fight would go on until one fighter submitted.

Sakuraba eventually defeated Royce after six 15-minute rounds (90 full minutes of fighting) when the famed member of the Gracie family retired from the fight after the sixth round.

While critics will point out that Sakuraba is not the fighter that he once was, he is still a massive draw in Japan and arguably the most beloved and famous Japanese fighter in the history of MMA.


Elsewhere on the Dream.11 card, the inaugual DREAM Featherweight Grand Prix Champion will be crowned.

In semi-final action, Joe Warren – fresh off of his shocking upset of Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto – will look to continue his rise to prominence when he battles Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes, while Hiroyuki “Streetfight Bancho” Takaya takes on Hideo Tokoro, who is coming off of a Fight of the Year candidate bout with Abel Cullum. Kazuyuki Miyata will meet Daiki “DJ.taiki” Hata in the reserve bout.

The DREAM Super Hulk Tournament’s finalists will also be determined. Hong Man Choi faces Ikuhisa “Minowaman” Minowa and “The African Assassin” Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou squares off against Bob “The Beast” Sapp, who is replacing an injured Gegard Mousasi.

In a non-tournament bout, fan favourite Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri takes on Guam’s Melchor “Barracuda” Manibusan, who is competing for the first time since 2006.


Dream.11 is headlined by a DREAM Lightweight Championship rubber match between champion Joachim “Hellboy” Hansen and challenger Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki. The event airs live on HDNet tomorrow morning at 7:00 A.M. Eastern time, 4:00 A.M. Pacific.

MMARising.com will be providing live play-by-play of the event.