It was announced last night (Sat., June 3, 2017) during the broadcast of UFC 212 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that Japanese legend Kazushi Sakuraba (26-17-1D-2NC) will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in July.
“When I was told about being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, my first reaction was surprise,” Sakuraba said in a UFC press release. “I stepped into the Octagon 20 years ago and I never could have dreamed that one day I would be invited to join other legends in the UFC Hall of Fame. It has always been my mission, not only to become the best, but to show the world the excitement and glory of MMA. In the process, if I’ve somehow influenced the sport of MMA, it was never in my power to do it alone. I couldn’t have achieved anything without my esteemed opponents, without staff who make events happen, without media who tell our stories, and, most importantly, without the support of the amazing fans. It is my wish to share this honor with everyone in the Japanese martial arts world that, through PRIDE, helped establish a new era in fighting sport.”
Sakuraba, 47, climbed to fame during his days in Pride as he pestered nearly every Gracie under the sun. Nicknamed “The Gracie Hunter,” Sakuraba dominated in his early career by finishing Royce Gracie, Renzo Gracie, and Royler Gracie in less than one year. He originally won the UFC Ultimate Japan Heavyweight Tournament in 1997.
The Japanese trailblazer will be inducted into the “Pioneer Wing,” and join the likes of Urijah Faber as fighters to enter the Hall of Fame this year. To view Sakuraba’s UFC Fight Pass collection click here.
The induction ceremony will take place on July 6 at Park Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada, as part of UFC’s International Fight Week.