One of my all-time favorites, and one of the most influential fighters of all-time. Saku was a natural. He was a pro-wrestler, who went in there and pwned Gracie's, it was awesome. His battles with the Gracie's still hold up well, and at the time, were HUGE deals. Saku was able to pull off stuff people shouldn't be pulling off, and he did so with ease. He's the man.
The Takada dojo usually produced turds, but Saku was far from a turd, he was a top class fighter. Pride really screwed him up, by having him fight larger guys. The larger guys, of course, pretty much killed him. Such a stupid move, and I never got why they did that to Saku, seeing as he WAS Pride for a while.
Sakuraba's awesome, a true manly man. Nowadays, I avoid watching him, but his past fights were the greats.
My top 5 favorite Sakuraba fights.
1. vs Carlos Newton (Pride 3).
A great grappling match. In fact, this was ground breaking for its time, since you normally don't see 2 guys having a high end grappling match in an MMA setting in 1998. Newton was a great grappler, and subbed another great grappler in Erik Paulson with ease. Sakuraba actually subbed Newton, and just moved so natural in there. It was amazing.
2. vs Vernon White (Pride 2).
This was a great fight, and was like Newton vs Sakuraba in a way, but Vernon added strikes later on. Freakin' Saku had, like, 3 fights before facing Vernon White, and he ended up catching him! That's amazing, especially since Vernon's a tough guy to sub.
3. vs Renzo Gracie (Pride 10).
Who knew Sakuraba was going to tap Renzo Gracie? I sure as hell didn't, and this fight was excellent. Both guys do some solid stand-up, and both guys work the ground. Never a dull moment, and this was Sakuraba at his best. Seriously, he was probably the greatest fighter at this point.
4. vs Ebenezer Fontes Braga (Pride 6).
Braga is no slouch, and he's a good grappler himself, but Sakuraba ended up armbarring him. Great fight, with Braga trying to stand with Saku.
5. vs Rampage (Pride 15).
Powerbomb, powerbomb, powerbomb, powerbomb, powerbomb. This was awesome, and it showed how solid Saku is off his back. He kept trying to catch Rampage in sub after sub, but Quinton was all, "Man, I'm going to go Big Van Vader on your ass." Exciting, fast-paced fight.
So yeah, appreciate the awesomeness that is Kazushi Sakuraba.