Main Card | Tournament Quarter-Finals | MMA
Kazushi Sakuraba defeats Royce Gracie via KO/TKO at 15:00 of Round 6
- Bout Information
- Event: Pride Grand Prix 2000 Finals
- Date: Monday 05.01.2000
- Referee: Yuji Shimada
- Venue: Tokyo Dome
- Enclosure: Ring
- Location: Tokyo, Japan
- Bout Billing: Main Card (fight 2 of 9)
- Pro/Am: Professional
- TV Commentary: Stephen Quadros, Bas Rutten
- Post-Fight Interviewer:
- Sakuraba Total Disclosed Pay: None Disclosed
- Gracie Total Disclosed Pay: None Disclosed
- Tournament: Pride 2000 Grand Prix
- Tournament Round: Quarter-Finals
Sakuraba vs. Gracie I Wiki Update Wiki
After defeating Royler Gracie in one of the featured bouts of Pride 8 in 1999, Kazushi Sakuraba had emerged as one of the most popular and famous fighters in the world. With only one loss on his record, he was considered a credible threat to the legendary Royce Gracie when they were matched up against one another in the Quarterfinal round of the 2000 Pride Openweight Grand Prix. Gracie was a three-time UFC champion who had never been defeated (outside of a default loss to Harold Howard when he withdrew from the UFC 3 Tournament). The fight between these two legends lasted for an hour and a half before Gracie’s corner threw in the towel after round 6, giving Sakuraba his second win over a member of the famed Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu family.
Coming into the fight, Gracie had never been defeated in a professional bout, but Sakuraba showed unflinching confidence both in pre-fight interviews as well as during his walk-in. Gracie entered the ring wearing his traditional Jiu-Jitsu Gi, while Sakuraba, garbed in orange, wore his patented mask into the ring. The first round was a back and forth affair, with both fighters doing damage with strikes while Sakuraba managed to get the better of most of the grappling exchanges. Gracie came into his own in the second round, threatening Sakuraba with several submission attempts, including a Guillotine choke, as well as landing a series of peppering shots on the Japanese fighter. In the third round, Sakuraba started to pull the momentum of the fight toward him, as he knocked Gracie down with hard strikes and thwarted most of his attempts to get him to the ground. It was clear that Sakuraba was frustrating Gracie, and was increasingly able to use Gracie’s Gi against him for control. The fourth round continued in a similar fashion, with Gracie continually looking to take the fight to the mat without success as Sakuraba damaged him with nearly every striking exchange. Sakuraba surprised many by dominating Gracie from top position on the ground in the fifth round, landing numerous punches from inside Gracie’s legendary guard and completely dominating with positional control. Gracie refused to give in during the sixth round, as he rushed Sakuraba and exchanged strikes with him throughout the round, losing nearly every exchange. Sakuraba’s preferred strategy had emerged through the fifth and six rounds, in which he would stuff Gracie’s advances and then punish him with vicious leg kicks. When he sat following the sixth round Gracie was virtually unable to walk. A discussion ensued in the corner and Gracie’s corner threw in the towel as Royce sat dejectedly on his stool after well over an hour of continuous fighting.
Though Gracie exacted a measure of revenge seven years later with a decision win over Sakuraba in 2007, that win was later overturned to a No Contest after Gracie tested positive for anabolic steroids following the bout. Sakuraba, for his part, would go on to earn his “Gracie Hunter” nickname by defeating two more Gracie’s during his career. The much yearned-for bout between Sakuraba and family champion Rickson Gracie unfortunately never materialized.