Great highlight video of a very young Kazushi Sakuraba. It is interesting to see him before his early fights in Pride, before he took on the Gracie family and made himself a legend, and launched MMA in Japan to a whole other level. This fight was basically Sakuraba debut in mma, as his first fight against Kimo is widely regarded as a work. A lot of the showmanship of his later career is missing, but the tenacity and heart that he has always been admired for shines through.
Looking back at this video and other early UFC's, it is obvious the the reffing for MMA has evolved. While Big John McCarthy is now regarded as the best MMA ref ever, and rightly so, you can tell from watching this vid that it was a process. Big John had to go through horrible stoppages like this and watching Jeremy Horn choke out Chuck Liddel in their first fight (1999) while remaining clueless in order to grow as an official. BJM had the luxury of time as there were few other refs out there with experience on the big stage, or even competent refs for that matter. At this stage in his career McCarthy was the King with one good eye who ruled a land of the blind.
While we are on the subject of Saku and the UFC, I have always thought it would be a nice gesture for the UFC to induct Saku into their Hall of Fame. While Saku's presence in UFC was minimal, inducting him into the Hall would be a nice gesture to the greater MMA community and a nice way to honor a legend in the twilight of his career. It would also so give an indication that UFC would be a proper steward of the legacy of Pride Fighting Championships. I doubt it will happen, though. If it isn't going to generate $$$ for Zuffa, they really have little impetus to do it.
Update [2008-5-3 20:11:3 by robnashville]: Full fights after the jump...