I watched Ong Bak 2 (which is apparently one the best movies ever made) and at the end, I realized I just watched an entire movie in Thai and it made more sense than every movie Tom Cruise has put out since 2004. I also realized that it’s not unreasonable to consider Kazushi Sakuraba as the greatest of all time. You’ve probably heard of Rampage Jackson. Yeah, he RNCed him in Pride FC back in the day. Remember Royler, Royce, Ryan and Renzo Gracie? Sakuraba submitted two of them, handed the other a TKO and won a UD over Ryan. He has submitted Minowaman, TKOd Ken Shamrock, armbared Kevin Randleman and made Guy Mezger forfeit in the opening round of the 2000 Pride Grand Prix (actually it was Ken Shamrock who made Mezger quit after the first round, overall weird stuff). So when Sakuraba proclaims that MMA has ‘lost its essence,’ it’s hard not to believe him. Here’s what Sakuraba told Kamipro (translated by Fighters Only) regarding the state of MMA.
“I see it [Japanese MMA] troubled. Nowadays the dream of young Japanese fighters is to fight in America. In my epoch, we wanted to fight for our fan base in the events that were held here.”
“Japan has good events. I think many good fighters are fighting around here. The issue is the market. America produces events to make money. They only think about money.”
“We [in Japan] always concern ourselves with the entertainment, in bringing the best to entertain the public here. We never think about turning the sport into business. Today MMA became a business, lost its essence.”
“I have already fought in America [K-1 Dynamite!! USA 2007] and I don’t think on coming back there. Not to fight. I don’t care about purses anymore. The young fighters worry about it.”
Sakuraba then goes on to say that Akiyama has more reasons not to fight in Japan than Gomi, certainly a statement that is more complex than my sleep-deprived mind could possibly comprehend. [Source]