Japanese promotion Rizin Fighting Federation have revealed that MMA legends Dan Henderson and Kazushi Sakuraba will meet in a blockbuster grappling match at the promotion’s next event in October.
In an official announcement at the Saitama Super Arena during this past weekend’s Rizin FF World Grand Prix 2017: 1st Round event, the promotion revealed that former UFC middleweight Henderson will take on fellow PRIDE veteran Sakuraba on Sunday, October 15 at the Marine Messe in Fukuoka City, Japan.
46-year-old Henderson has only recently retired from MMA, closing out his career with one last shot at grabbing UFC gold, when he faced current middleweight champion and fierce rival Michael Bisping at UFC 204 in October last year. Despite losing by unanimous decision, “Hendo” was competitive throughout, enjoying spells of domination and almost finished the fight towards the end of an earlier round. This will be Henderson’s second grappling match since retirement after losing to UFC Light-Heavyweight champion Jon Jones via an arm triangle choke in their submission-only bout at Submission Underground 2 last December.
Meanwhile, combat sports legend Sakuraba was inducted into the Pioneer wing of the UFC Hall of Fame earlier this year and retired from MMA in 2015. The Japanese icon’s last bout came in the form of a TKO loss to former ONE champion Shinya Aoki at Rizin FF World Grand Prix 2015, although like Henderson, he too has competed in grappling bouts with his last appearance coming in a grappling tag match at last year’s Rizin featuring Wanderlei Silva.
In a post-announcement interview, Rizin President Nobuyuki Sakakibara made it clear that despite the two fighters agreeing to meet in a grappling bout, they were both still very much retired and would not be competing in any MMA bouts.