Kazushi Sakuraba backstage at Dream 14 with the last man to fight "Mayhem," albeit unofficially. Photo via GracieFighter.
DREAM 16 breaking news- Mayhem v Sakuraba, Joe Warren v Omigawa &Gegard v Mizuno for title. HDNet kick ass card. News from me & @hdnetfights
Yes, you read that right: 29-year-old Strikeforce middleweight contender Jason "Mayhem" Miller (23-7, 1 NC) will square off against 41-year-old "I.Q. Wrestler" Kazushi Sakuraba (26-13-1, 2 NC) in Nagoya, Japan, on September 25.
The two court jesters of MMA nearly faced one another in the quarterfinals of Dream's 2008 Middleweight Grand Prix - a match which Miller referred to at the time as his "dream fight" - but Sakuraba instead drew Melvin Manhoef, while Miller saw his first meeting with Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza. The fight makes slightly less sense now, with "Mayhem" still a viable title contender for both Strikeforce and DREAM, and Sakuraba coming off of an unspectacular decision loss to Ralek Gracie in May.
As noted earlier this week, quite a bit could be riding on the television ratings for Tokyo Broadcasting System's prime-time airing of DREAM.16. It's easy to dismiss this bout as a ratings grab, and I've no doubt that's part of it; Sakuraba is one of the few remaining superstars from PRIDE and "Mayhem's" colorful personality has previously gone over well in Japan. However, it's also not far removed from DREAM's usual matchmaking approach. I won't be amongst those wringing their hands and wondering if this will be the fight where the battle-worn Saku finally dies in the ring, but for once I also can't say I'll begrudge those who do.
The other two matches which Simon confirmed are tough to complain about. As Tapology reported on Tuesday, Bellator champ Joe Warren (5-1) will tangle with Michihiro Omigawa (11-8-1) in what promises to be a war of attrition between two tough featherweights.