In a recent installment of TAGG Radio it was reported that PRIDE veteran Hayato Sakurai would not be facing Diego Sanchez at UFC 74 despite numerous reports confirming the fight in the past several weeks. Here is what was said by Frank Trigg on the radio show:
“Sakurai, for sure, is not fighting Diego at least as of Sunday morning when I talked to him, or his guy, his English isn’t that good. He doesn’t have any plans on fighting Diego and doesn’t know anything about it…He’s like ‘Why do people keep asking me if I’m fighting this guy Diego? I’m in Japan laying down, literally on the couch with my wife and kids. I’m not training for this guy right now.”
There was skepticism when this fight was first reported as it came from a single source: an Albuquerque TV station who learned of the fight from Diego himself.
Sanchezâ€™s last UFC effort could be described as lackluster at best as he fell in a very boring and one-sided unanimous decision loss to Josh Koscheck at UFC 69 in April. He had a good excuse for the loss as he had contracted a severe staph infection prior to the fight although it didnâ€™t definitively surface until the day after when a hole opened up in his leg. The loss is the only blemish on his otherwise perfect record making him a large draw.
Sakurai, is a Pride veteran on a 3 figt win streak. He boasts a 30-7-2 MMA record overall while fighting primarily in the Shooto, DEEP, and PRIDE organizations in Japan. In 2005 he fell to Takanori Gomi via KO in the first but has bouced back with wins in his next 3 fights all coming via the knockout. In his only UFC fight â€œMachâ€? he lost to Matt Hughes via TKO at UFC 38.
Later in the show Trigg stated that Sakurai has not signed a UFC contract and that his contract remains with PRIDE and he is planning on returning to the Japanese organization when/if it re-forms.
We probably won’t know difinitively whether Diego is fighting at UFC 74 or who he is fighting until it is officially announced by the UFC although I will continue to report rumors until the card is finalized.