After 20 long years in the making, MMA legend Frank Shamrock will finally get a chance to fight Japanese veteran MMA fighter Kazushi Sakuraba. Dan Henderson was originally slated to fight Sakuraba. The scheduled all grappling rules match was set for October 15th, in the RIZIN Fight Federation in Fukuoka Japan. However, a neck injury pushed Henderson out of the match and Shamrock stepped in to challenge Sakuraba.
Frank Shamrock has not fought since losing via TKO to Nick Diaz in 2009. He retired after that fight, although he later hinted at a comeback. Kazushi Sakuraba last fought in 2015, although he has not had a MMA win since 2015. The fight will take place at 84 kg, 185 pounds.
Frank has been begging for a fight with Sak for decades, going all the way back to 1997, when he was the lightweight UFC titleholder. That same year, Sakuraba won the UFC Japan Ultimate Heavyweight Tournament.
It looked like the two fighters would match up in 97 or 98, but they went in different directions. Frank ended up staying in the UFC and defended the belt four times, including an epic match-up against Tito Ortiz. Kazushi went and fought for Pride, becoming a worldwide star, while beating up guys like Rampage Jackson.
Frank called out Sakuraba multiple times and a fight almost took place in 1999, but it never went down. Now, 20 years later, with both fighters well past their primes, the fighters will step in the ring. Both Shamrock and Sakuraba are masters at grappling, so it will surely be a huge battle. If the fight draws enough interest, they might just fight again in a full MMA bout. Japanese fans love both fighters, but they will be pulling for Sakuraba. Frank, if he wins this bout, just might make a MMA comeback in his 40s, but don’t count on that happening with the UFC. Dana White and Shamrock have bad blood going back over 10 years. If Frank fights again after this grappling match, it will most likely be in Japan.