There are a few things that every MMA fan should agree on. One of them is that Kazushi Sakuraba is a legend.
But, in case you don’t know the name — here’s a quick primer.
Sakuraba shocked the MMA world (which, actually, wasn’t really the MMA world yet, as we hadn’t agreed upon a name for the sport back then) by scoring historic wins against the then-dominant Gracie family of jiu-jitsu specialists, earning himself the nickname “The Gracie Hunter.” His submission wins over larger fighters like Kevin Randleman and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson were among the highlights in a career spanning from 1997 to 2011, in the PRIDE organization and beyond.
However, perhaps just as important, Sakuraba, aka “The IQ Wrestler,” is also one of the game’s most compelling personalities… even if you don’t speak a word of Japanese.
Sakuraba offered fans the image of a thinking man’s fighter, using a mix of skill and grit to claim unlikely victories — along with a sense of showmanship from his days as a pro wrestler.
The channel, SAKU39, has a mix of technique and style — just like the man himself.
Here’s his entry from back mount to the “cross face chicken wing”:
Here’s a crazy move that begins with a “turtled” opponent, continues with a “sunset flip” — and ends with an unorthodox submission:
Here’s his theatrical take on the arm triangle (kata-gatame)