Dana White and Frank Shamrock recently appeared - separately - on Mauro Ranallo's radio show, and each discussed the greatest fighter to ever come out of Japan, and maybe the world, Kazushi Sakuraba.
“I’m a huge Sakuraba fan. The problem with the Sakuraba story is, Sakuraba should have fought at 170 pounds instead of doing all these Japanese freak show fights where they got him destroyed by guys who were two weight classes heavier than him. So, it goes unanswered whether Kazushi Sakuraba could have been the greatest fighter to ever come out of Japan. The Japanese ruined him!
“It’s just like any other sport that starts out in the beginning. Guys that were great that you try to compare ‘em to different eras and, you know, like I told you — (I’m a) huge Sakuraba fan and it’s unfortunate that his career wasn’t handled in the right way where we could have found out if this guy was possibly the best fighter ever in Japanese history and I don’t disagree with you at all that he was a huge superstar and definitely put, you know, it on the map, not only in Japan but in the rest of the world.”
Ranallo also interviewed Frank Shamrock on The Gracie Hunter.
Mauro Ranallo: “This guy is literally going to die in the ring and, yet, here we are six years later and the 42-year old is still fighting. I wanted to get your thoughts on why what was considered one of the big fights and one that both Bas Rutten & I were both looking forward to calling never materialized, that being Frank Shamrock vs. Kazushi Sakuraba under the PRIDE banner. Why didn’t it happen?”
Frank Shamrock: “Well, it never happened because we just could never come to terms with it and at the time, you’re right, Sakuraba was the biggest thing in Mixed Martial Arts and honestly my brand was on the decline and… you know, I was a tough fight, him and I were the exact same style, our teacher’s teachers were the same teachers, so it seemed like we were destined to fight each other but, you know, that was a time when I was going down and he was going up and he was, you know, superstardom ahead of me.
“But when you talk about continuing to fight past your ability to represent your own brand, you know, the Japanese culture believes differently. To them, dying in the ring, that’s a big honor and, you know, I hate to say it but it looks like Sakuraba’s going to go out that way.”
MR: “You’re joking?”
FS: “No! I mean, when I was in Japan… I would have loved to have died in the ring fighting.”
FS: “Because that’s what I love to do, that’s the essence to of putting everything on the line and risking your life and your heart and your soul, your spirit, and putting everything out in front of the people. What better way to do if you’re a warrior?”
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Listen to entire interview...