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Sakuraba faces death once again

Poor Sakuraba.

DREAM officials let the fans pick the matchups for the second round of the middleweight tournament and everyone picked Saku’s long time rival Kiyoshi Tamura. Great, right? Not really. Tamura has pulled out of the tournament with a broken finger, and Melvin Manhoef was selected as his replacement. So in effect, the fans who voted to see Sakuraba finally face the guy he’s been chasing for years have actually put him in MORTAL FUCKING DANGER.

I’m not going to say Manhoef is the greatest fighter ever … Sakuraba certainly has a decent chance of winning this fight, but I wonder if he’ll be able to do it without getting the shit kicked out of him in the process. We all saw what happened in the Smirnovas fight: a brain jarring smack down that made Rocky 4 look like patty cake. Considering all his talk of not wanting to participate in the tournament, I’m amazed he agreed to this after Tamura pulled out.

All the same I’ll be watching this fight closely. Either it’s going to be an epic beatdown or Saku is gonna pull things off in spectacular fashion. Or both.

  • Houston “Glass Jaw” Alexander

    Everyone’s making too big a deal about Saku vs. Melvin. Melvin has had some electric performances, but I think all the hype of Saku going to his execution is highly out of place. Sakuraba is old and wears athletic tape for clothing, but he has proven time and time again that he can neutralize the brawlers and work magic out of seemingly nothing.

  • fightlinker

    Like how he neutralized Smirnovas? (aka Smirnovas got tired from beating on Sak so hard)

  • robnashville

    they should have put him in with the donger…… a much safer fight for Saku

  • Hywel Teague [FO Magazine]

    Manhoef fights like Wand, only with MORE aggression

    We all saw what happened to Sak against Silva

  • Huckaby

    After initially disagreeing I have to say you’re right. My initial thought was that if Yoon could get him down and submit him then Saku should be able to do it too. What I did not factor in was that Yoon can probably take a much better beating than Saku at this point.
    Maybe this is for the best. If Saku can’t handle a favorable style matchup like Manhoef I’ll finally say he needs to go for good (maybe after one more legends match against Tamura).

  • Leland Roling

    Manhoef is a different breed when you really think about it. If you follow MMA and K-1 extensively, there are a few defining attributes that give Manhoef some great advantages in standup striking and on the ground.

    His strength is ridiculous. He’s very, very quick, and his leg kicks are destructive. He also has a solid, solid chin, ie. Remy absolutely kicked the shit out of him at the last K-1 event, yet Manhoef lasted the fight.

    Sakuraba doesn’t have the speed to contain Manhoef’s powerful strikes, but Manhoef’s ground tactics are garbage. The only problem is that Manhoef has enough strength to power out of the holds and blast Sakuraba into retirement.

    It should be an interesting fight, but Manhoef has the edge.

  • crs

    Yeah, I see this being exactly like his fights with Wanderlei: He attempts takedowns, gets the shit beat out of him for his troubles, gives up and trades like all brave Japanese fighters foolishly do and then goes to sleep. The man has a death wish.

  • Houston “Glass Jaw” Alexander

    Fightlinker: “Like how he neutralized Smirnovas?”

    Yeah, like how he won, again.

  • fightlinker

    Ahaha, oh come on now. Sakuraba got absolutely smashed in that fight. There was no neutralization at all … Smirnovas gassed after beating on Saku for 6 minutes and got caught in an armbar. Props to Saku for being there to pull it off, it’s def. one of the greatest comebacks in the history of MMA. But to say that Saku is known for neutralizing strikers is … wow. I don’t even know. He’s known for taking beatings. And still winning. Occasionally.

  • Roxy

    oh my god….Manhoef is a scary scary man….

  • Captain

    Ninja please. Japanese dudes with good subs are like kryptonite to Melv. Motherfucker’s gonna get subbed and y’all are gonna be lovin on Saku all over again.