Kazushi Sakuraba: An MMA Ring Death Just Waiting To Happen

Matthew HemphillCorrespondent IISeptember 7, 2011

I was reading through the upcoming events in MMA when I read that the UFC was going to Japan in 2012.

Since DREAM is still around, I wondered if the Japanese organization had any plans for that year, and to see if they planned on trying to compete with Zuffa juggernaut.

Instead, I saw a card for DREAM 17 and a name on there that immediately filled me with dread.

The Gracie Hunter, Kazushi Sakuraba.

Before I go on, I have to say that I'm a fan of Sakuraba. He has beaten some of the best names in MMA and fought plenty more of them. Win or lose he has always given his all. The problem is he still is fighting and giving 100 percent.

He shouldn't be fighting at all.

No doubt the last image in most of your minds of Sakuraba is the picture of the partially ripped off ear that was taken in his 2010 fight with Marius Zaromskis. He was 41 then.

Now he is a year older and has taken close to the same amount of time off since that fight. However, sometimes in Japanese MMA, the fighters are given easy comeback fights.

Not this time though. Instead of a soft touch, Sakuraba gets undefeated 9-0 Yan Cabral.

Cabral is 28.

It's true that Cabral hasn't faced murder's row, but at this point, Sakuraba has been worn threadbare. His body is literally falling off of him. Sakuraba has lost his last three, and five of his last seven. He is worn out. He has nothing left, but he keeps coming back to fight again.

The worst part is that Sakuraba wants to die in the ring. His pride as a fighter keeps him coming back and his samurai spirit has him longing to die.

When he does, though, there will be no glory. No one will say that the man died like he wanted.  

There will just be more bad press for MMA, and one more fallen hero.

To go in the ring when you know you might die takes courage. To walk in hoping that you will takes something else. Somebody to tell you that you need help.

Let's hope Sakuraba gets it.