20 years ago, Kazushi Sakuraba defeated Royce Gracie in the longest fight in MMA History. The bout lasted an incredible 90 Minutes!
Kazushi Sakuraba, a professional wrestler who derived his foundation in submissions not from jiu jitsu but rather from catch wrestling and shoot wrestling, rose up in the year’s stablemate and master Nobuhiko Takada, before finding himself matched up with Gracie. The two battled for an hour and a half. Early in the fight, Sakuraba nearly ended things with a kneebar towards the end of the first round. Later on, Royce returned the favor with a guillotine choke. Indeed, the Gracie’s own no time-limit rules began to work against Royce when Sakuraba, displaying much better conditioning, kept punishing Royce instead of going for submissions, prolonging the match.
As the fight wore on however, Sakuraba’s wrestling skills and balance nullified Royce’s ability to score a takedown and—in some instances—even pull guard. Royce’s ever-present jiu-jitsu gi became a weapon for the wrestler to use against him as Sakuraba used it to help him control Gracie on the instances the fight did come to the ground. However, with Sakuraba’s control of the takedown, these instances of ground warfare became increasingly sporadic. After the 90 minute battle of punishing low kicks, Royce’s brother threw in the towel. Gracie could no longer stand and suffered a broken femur from accumulated damage. Sakuraba would go on to defeat other members of the Gracie family including Renzo Gracie and Ryan Gracie earning him the nickname “Gracie Hunter.” Source wikipedia.
On May 8, 2007, EliteXC announced that Gracie’s opponent for the June 2 K-1 Dynamite!! USA event in Los Angeles, California, would be Japanese fighter Kazushi Sakuraba.
Gracie defeated Sakuraba by a unanimous decision. The drug test revealed that Royce had traces of Nandrolone in his system. “Use of steroids is simply cheating,” said Armando Garcia, California State Athletic Commission executive director. “It won’t be tolerated in this state.
In this video, part of an old instructional, Sakuraba shows the moves he used on Royce Gracie in their epic Pride fight. “Sakuraba Gimmick” originally only on VHS. Definitely not legal for IBJJF:
Kazushi Sakuraba is one of the most well-known MMA fighters, Catch Wrestlers and grapplers in the world.
He rose quickly to fame after defeating some of the Gracie’s and using his trademark technique “The Kimura.”