Kazushi Sakuraba. Photo courtesy of Fight Entertainment Group.
Fight Entertainment Group has announced the first three bouts for the organization’s upcoming middleweight grand prix first round, which will currently take place on April 29th at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
Despite recent rumors that a healing cut on his leg would prevent him from competing at the event, Japanese mixed martial arts legend Kazushi Sakuraba will return to action against Karate practitioner Andrews Nakahara.
Sakuraba bounced back from a unanimous decision loss to Royce Gracie in June with consecutive wins over Masakatsu Funaki and Katsuyori Shibata. Nakahara will be making his professional debut.
Funaki will also be competing in the tournament, taking on fellow veteran Kiyoshi Tamura. While Funaki’s loss to Sakuraba on New Year’s Eve was his first fight in over seven years, Tamura has remained fairly active in recent years. He was last victorious over Hideo Tokoro on December 31st as well.
Former PRIDE middleweight grand prix runner-up Denis Kang has been confirmed as fighting in the tourney. He will take on Hardcore Championship Fighting veteran Gegard Mousasi.
Mousasi is currently riding a seven-fight winning streak, which has saw him finish his last six opponents. Kang has struggled as of late, losing two out of his last three bouts, including a brutal knockout at the hands of Yoshihiro Akiyama in October.
Additional fighters confirmed as participating include Akiyama, Ikuhisa Minowa, Dong Sik Yoon, Shungo Oyama, and Taiei Kin.
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