LAS VEGAS — Mixed martial arts legends and UFC Hall of Famers Kazushi Sakuraba and Urijah Faber will square off on the grappling mats.
The duo are two of the four team captains in Quintet, the grappling concept which makes its way to Sin City for an event at The Orleans Arena on Oct. 5, one night before Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor square off at T-Mobile Arena for UFC 229.
And the promotion announced that the captain’s showdown is the first bout officially signed for the event, which will air live on UFC Fight Pass.
The 49-year old Sakuraba, one of MMA’s original legends, has a track record like few others. Sakuraba won the UFC Japan heavyweight tournament in 1997 and from there went on to PRIDE, where his highlights included hanging Royce Gracie his first professional loss in a legendary 90-minute fight in the 2000 Openweight Grand Prix. Sakuraba, whose last MMA bout was a 2015 loss to Shinya Aoki, has also been a professional wrestler and competed in various submission grappling events.
Faber, meanwhile, was the face of the WEC during its rise to popularity, holding the WEC featherweight belt when it was the de facto world championship at 145-pounds. The Team Alpha Male founder went on to a long and distinguished MMA career before retiring following a memorable victory over Brad Pickett in his hometown of Sacramento during his farewell fight in Dec. 2016.
For his part, Faber said the matchup with Sakuraba is an honor.
“For me, Sakuraba was my favorite fighter when I first got into the sport,” Faber said at a Quintet media day Monday at the UFC Performance Institue. “I had a two-hour VHS tape of Sakuraba and all his crazy stuff. He was doing crazy double flying chops with both hands and undressing the Gracie family one shoulder at a time and probably my favorite fight of all-time was when he fought in Heroes and was rocked and kind of out of it, and they stopped him and kind of shook him in bounds. The guy’s incredible. I think he and I both have 19 submissions, which is close to the record in UFC, WEC, Strikeforce and PRIDE combined. So for me, this is awesome man, it’s a dream come true.”
Quintet also announced Monday that veteran competitor Hideo Tokoro will compete in a superfight in Las Vegas against an opponent to be named later.