Nick Diaz Set To Face Hayato Sakurai At Dream.14 In MayClose to two years after they were first set to face each other, Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz and Japanese legend Hayato “Mach” Sakurai will square off at Dream.14 on May 29th. The non-title bout could serve as the main event of the card, which was formally announced today.

Diaz and Sakurai were originally scheduled to compete at Dream.5 in July of 2008 in a bout that was rumoured to be for the first DREAM Welterweight Championship. Diaz was pulled from the event for a fight in EliteXC and has since captured the Strikeforce Welterweight Championship.

Diaz (21-7-0, 1 ND) has won six straight fights since coming up short in an EliteXC Lightweight Championship bout with “King” KJ Noons in 2007. The brash and sometimes controversial Diaz has become one of the top stars outside of the UFC and finally obtained a major championship when he defeated DREAM champ Marius “The Whitemare” Zaromskis at Strikeforce: Miami in January. The win earned Diaz the newly-created Strikeforce Welterweight Championship. A rematch with Zaromskis was rumoured for Dream.14, but Diaz will finally square off with Sakurai instead.

Sakurai (35-10-2) has held one of the more storied careers in Japanese MMA history. The long-time Shooto champ reigned undefeated through his first 20 fights and has since enjoyed successful tenures in PRIDE and DREAM. However, motivation has been an issue for Sakurai in recent years and he was unable to follow up on a crushing 27-second knockout win over Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki last year. Now in the middle of a two-fight losing streak, Sakurai needs a big victory in order to remain among the top contenders in the division as his career winds down.

Dream.14 is currently set for May 29th at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Additional fights are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. An event planned for April 24th in South Korea, previously dubbed Dream.14, was cancelled in late March.


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