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Old 11-19-2008, 09:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Was Sakuraba The Highest Level Of Fighter We Have Seen In MMA?

I'd say so.

Saku was a guy who was naturally talented. He came in and was thrown in there against a huge grappler in Conan, and he ended up armbarring him in their second fight. Then, he goes on to completely outgrapple guys like Renzo, Newton, White and Braga. Sakuraba was way, way, way ahead of his time, and had it all: Striking, grappling, charisma, excitement, presence, etc.

You had this smaller guy beating bigger dudes. It was amazing to see someone who came from a pro-wrestling background and made great grapplers look pretty foolish. He put it all together rather quickly. He pulled off moves that were mind blowing. He was a thinking man's fighter, and for a chain smoker, he had excellent cardio.

Guys like Fedor, Penn, GSP, Nogueira and Anderson Silva are all great fighters, and they each have their own special qualities, but Kazushi Sakuraba just had something more than them. When Sakuraba busted out something new, you knew it was a huge deal. He was unpredictable in there. I'm not saying that Sakuraba would beat guys like Fedor and Nogueira, but as far as all the tools and the "it" factor, Saku (1999-2000 era) rates above them. I mean, dude took on Igor Vovy back when Vovy was Fedor-like, and did really well against him.

It's a shame to see current Sakuraba. They completely ruined him by feeding him to guys like Mirko, Arona, Manhoef and Akiyama. Of course, Saku wasn't going to refuse those fights, dude has a huge heart (Or he's completely insane). It's sad to see someone who is seen as a great fighter look so old and broken down.

I truly believe that Sakuraba was the highest level of fighter we have seen in MMA. It's hard to compare anyone to him when he was at his best. Hell, many try to be like 1999-2000 Sakuraba, but they just can't.

Cardio, charisma, striking, grappling, presence, emotion, etc. Sakuraba was in a league of his own.

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Old 11-19-2008, 10:01 PM   #2 (permalink)
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No matter how he is now, the Gracie Hunter will always be a favorite in my heart. The dude beat so many guys he was supposed to lose again it's insane. You're right he does seem like the modern MMA fighter and if he fought like he used to, he would be a huge name. That being said, I hope the dude can reclaim the glory he once had although I doubt it.
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Old 11-19-2008, 10:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Watching him fight was like watching a child playing. Beautiful.
He and josh barnett showed me that there is more to catch wrestling than meets the eye.
My fav video of him:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0nltcFB4kI

PS:He was a chain smoker?
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Old 11-19-2008, 10:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Sakuraba is the true "cerebral assassin." One of the highest fight IQ's in MMA ever.
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Old 11-19-2008, 10:29 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Completely agree with you D, and that's why he's gonna wreck Tamura.
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Old 11-19-2008, 10:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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For the uninitiated. Enjoy:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...49719594947338
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Old 11-19-2008, 10:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
PS:He was a chain smoker?
Yes, and he still is. He also likes to drink a ton of booze.
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Old 11-19-2008, 10:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Damone View Post
Yes, and he still is. He also likes to drink a ton of booze.
Saku is now my idol! I'd love to go shot for shot with him with some sake.
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Old 11-19-2008, 10:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Although Saku had bad habits, he's a victim of Japanese mma. Why the hell did he fight Wanderlei a 3rd time, Arona, Cro Cop, Rogerio Nogueira, etc. and probably not enough time off between fights.

I wish he had fought in today's modern middleweight division, it would have suited him much better. Frank Shamrock vs Sakuraba would have been insane fight, really would have had everything.

Underrated performances: tooling Ryan Gracie and submitting Newton
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Old 11-19-2008, 10:55 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Saku was going to face Wandy for the 4th time at Shockwave 2004, but thankfully, he pulled out and Hunt took his place. Wandy vs Saku 4 would've been a sad, sad sight. Hunt vs Silva, however, was a great fight.

I'd so do gin shots with Sakuraba.
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