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Old 09-25-2012, 07:39 AM   #6
yaca you
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Default Re: Rickson vs Sakuraba = Mayweather vs Pacquiao

What could have been? In late 2000, Sakuraba had become the biggest star in sougou kakutougi by running off a series of victories over the famed, and previously unbeatable, Gracie clan. Royler, Royce, Renzo, Ryan. He had become the Gracie Hunter.

But there was one name conspicuously left off that list. The Gracie family champion. The man that had beaten Sakuraba's mentor Nobuhiko Takada. The best of not only all the Gracies but also perhaps the best in all sougou kakutougi. Rickson Gracie.

In late 2000, it seemed fairly certain that Rickson Gracie would be facing Nagoya Ogawa at the Coliseum 2001 show at the Tokyo Dome. But Dream Stage Entertainment threw a wrench into these plans by offering not only a fight with Kazushi Sakuraba in their Pride FC promotion but also an unheard of pay day.

"That fight would have been the biggest payout of all times," according to Rickson. "They offered me five million dollars, it would have put me on easy street. He beat a number of Gracies, and it would have been a good fight for me, perhaps the best fight. He really was a thorn in the side of all the Gracies."

DSE had been trying to put the fight together all year, but it was only after Sakuraba had defeated Ryan Gracie at Pride 10, cementing his "Gracie Hunter" title and his place as the biggest star in JMMA, that a contest between the two became the money fight to make.

Disaster put an end to any discussion of a match, when Rickson's son Rockson tragically died in December of 2000. Devastated, a grieving Rickson not only turned down the fight but retired from MMA.

Interest in a Rickson Gracie-Sakuraba fight was briefly resurrected in 2007 when Rickson had made an appearance at a HERO's Yokohohama Arena show. Soon thereafter FEG Event Producer Sadaharu Tanikawa was calling for a Sakuraba versus Rickson Gracie fight in 2008. "I'm up for it," Sakuraba replied when asked about facing the now 49-year-old Rickson. But this proved to be a false alarm and neither the Gracie champion nor the Gracie Hunter ever got the chance to test themselves against the other.

Pride offered 5mil to Rickson, which is huge money for mma even today but in 2000 it is amazing how big that fight would have been. I'm not sure it could be said Rickson ducked Sakuraba though.
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