With his grudge match on hold, Jason "Mayhem" Miller (23-7 MMA, 1-1 DREAM) will tide himself over by fighting an MMA legend.
The colorful Strikeforce fighter will returns overseas to face Kazushi Sakuraba (26-13-1 MMA, 3-3 DREAM) at DREAM.16, which takes place Sept. 25 at Nippon Gaishi Hall in Nagoya, Japan.
HDNet Fights today announced the fight, as well as a previously reported fight between Tatsuya Mizuno (8-5 MMA, 1-0 DREAM) and Gegard Mousasi (29-3-1 MMA, 7-0 DREAM) for the first-ever DREAM light-heavyweight title.
Also announced was a long-rumored bout between Bellator season-two featherweight-tournament winner Joe Warren (5-1 MMA, 2-1 DREAM) and UFC/PRIDE vet Michihiro Omigawa (11-8-1 MMA, 2-0 DREAM). Warren, of course, is also slated to fight Bellator champ Joe Soto at Bellator 27 on Sept. 2, three weeks before his DREAM.16 bout.
Miller's move comes not long after a meeting with Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz failed to materialize. Diaz this past week signed to face K.J. Noons on Oct. 9 at "Strikeforce: Noons vs. Diaz," which squashed a wave of fan interest in a grudge match between Miller and the champion.
The two were involved in a post-fight brawl four months ago at "Strikeforce: Nashville" and had pumped up their mutual disdain in interviews (self-conducted and otherwise) after Miller said this past month that he'd like to repay Diaz for the melee with a kick to the face.
Earlier this week, Cesar Gracie, Diaz's manager and trainer, told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) that a potential Miller matchup had been bandied about by Strikeforce officials but never formally offered. He said his fighter would be open to a catchweight fight in the near future but not a fight at middleweight.
"If you want to call out the champion, that means you're prepared to go to his weight," Gracie said. "If you're not prepared, don't call him out. If he just wants to fight Nick, come by the academy, and Nick will oblige him on the spot at any weight."
Rather than take on a gaggle of Gracie's for free, Miller has opted to get paid. In his most recent fights – at least those of the legal, sanctioned variety – he met Jake Shields for the vacant Strikeforce middleweight title on the CBS-televised "Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Rogers" event and came up short on points after a five-round, grappling-heavy bout, then defeated Tim Stout on the preliminary card of "Strikeforce Nashville" prior to the infamous brawl.
Prior to that, Miller has to settle for a "no contest" result during a rematch with Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza for the vacant DREAM middleweight title when he threw an illegal kick to the downed submission ace.
Meanwhile, the rapidly aging Sakuraba most recently fought Ralek Gracie at May's DREAM.14 event and lost by unanimous decision. The setback came after back-to-back wins over unheralded opponents Zelg Galesic and Rubin Williams.
Considered a forefather of Japanese MMA and a living legend in the sport's early days, the 41-year-old Sakuraba has been riding ever so slowly into the sunset of his 14-year-career.
Sakuraba won the UFC's Ultimate Japan heavyweight tournament in his third professional fight. He perfected the colorful masks and ring entrances that Miller has employed in recent years.