Fresh off a successful bid for the Strikeforce welterweight title, Nick Diaz (21-7 MMA, 1-0 DREAM) is set to face Japanese veteran Hayato Sakurai (35-10-2 MMA, 3-1 DREAM) at DREAM. 15.
Graciefighter.com, the online home of trainer Cesar Gracie, first reported the non-title fight. MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) subsequently confirmed the matchup with a source close to the event who said Strikeforce officials have cleared the booking.
DREAM.15 is expected to take place May 30 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The event is expected to air in North America on HDNet.
The upcoming event also features the first round of an eight-man light-heavyweight tournament that's expected to feature several prominent Strikeforce fighters, including light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi. Strikeforce and DREAM formed an alliance in 2009 and now share talent.
In his most recent performance, Diaz dominated 2009 DREAM welterweight grand prix champion Marius Zaromskis at "Strikeforce: Miami" in January and afterward was awarded the promotion's first-ever 170-pound belt.
The 26-year-old Diaz is currently riding a six-fight win streak since a loss to K.J. Noons in November 2007 for the EliteXC lightweight belt. With the DREAM booking, he's now unlikely to make his first Strikeforce title defense until later this year.
Sakurai, meanwhile, is on a two-fight slide with a submission loss to UFC veteran Akihiro Gono in his most recent performance at "Dynamite!! 2009." Prior to the New Year's Eve showing, he faced Zaromskis at the 2009 DREAM welterweight grand-prix semifinal round and was a victim of a devastating head kick knockout.
However, the 34-year-old Sakurai has shown flashes of brilliance in his later career. At DREAM.8 this past April, he pulled off an upset victory when he knocked out the top-ranked Shinya Aoki with knees and punches in just 27 seconds.
It's not known if Diaz vs. Sakurai will headline the fight card.