On the heels of Saturday's video announcement that Kazushi Sakuraba would participate in Tuesday's DREAM.11, event producer Keiichi Sasahara introduced Saku's short-order opponent to the press today in Yokohama. Making his MMA debut against the 13-year veteran will be pro boxer Rubin "Mr. Hollywood" Williams, who holds a 29-8-1 record in his sport. In 2005, he faced Jeff Lacy for the IBF Super Middleweight belt; but his record since 2007 is 0-6-1.
Speaking to reporters, Williams revealed that he's been training in MMA for approximately a year after boxing for his entire life. He received the offer from DREAM about a week ago, while in Germany helping IBF Middleweight Champ Arthur Abraham train for his upcoming bout with Jermain Taylor.
However, Williams says he doesn't know much about the "IQ Wrestler:"
I don't have much information about [Sakuraba], I just hear he's a legend in the game here. He's a very good fighter, well-respected individual, well-loved in the game... I had a guy that was working with me on some MMA moves back in Detroit... As far as the ground game, I've been getting pretty good at it over the last year. So I'll display what I've learned in the fight Tuesday.
And hey, if this doesn't work out, Williams says he's got a boxing match lined up for November 13th.
UPDATED - 10/4/09 1:45 PM ET
Brickhaus over at Bad Left Hook adds some insight from the boxing perspective:
While he's not the boxer who will have cross-over success in MMA, this shouldn't be too big of a surprise, and I suspect this kind of thing will become more common in the future. Guys need to make money, and if you're going to be paid to be the opponent who is there to lose, then you might as well expand your potential sources of income. Boxing fans know that Rubin Williams is completely shot, but to many MMA fans who don't dig deeper, he's a former title challenger who was on The Contender. Considering the physical condition WIlliams is in at the moment, with compromised vision and slow reflexes, I'd actually rather see him be a no-hoper against a wrestler, as he is in this fight, than a no-hoper against a boxer. At the very least, he has less of a chance of getting seriously injured that way.
Check the final DREAM.11 card and fight order after the jump.
October 6, 2009
#7 - Middleweight Match
Kazushi Sakuraba (24-12-1, 2 NC) vs. Rubin "Mr. Hollywood" Williams (debut)
#9 - 2009 Featherweight Grand Prix Final
Fernandes/Warren vs. Takaya/Tokoro