Diaz Armbars Sakurai at Dream 14; Gracie Tops Sakuraba

By Brian Knapp May 29, 2010
Diaz submits Sakurai. Photo by Taro Irei/Sherdog.com

Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz submitted Hayato “Mach” Sakurai with a first-round armbar in the Dream 14 headliner on Saturday at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The end came 3:54 into round one, as Diaz posted his seventh consecutive victory.

Sakurai exploded out of the gate and tagged Diaz with several stout punches, forcing the Cesar Gracie Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt to shoot for a takedown inside the first 20 seconds. Sakurai returned to his feet, where Diaz initiated a clinch against the cage. Once the two men parted, the Japanese veteran scored with his own takedown.

Diaz went to work from his back and rolled for the armbar. Sakurai fell into his trap, as his attempted escape folded him right into the submission. The tapout soon followed.

In the co-feature, Ralek Gracie restored some order to the first family of mixed martial arts, as he defeated Japanese icon Kazushi Sakuraba by unanimous decision.

Gracie, who had not competed in MMA in nearly two years, took down Sakuraba in all three rounds and controlled him on the ground with superior positioning and strategic strikes. Sakuraba swept him in the third and threatened with a kimura, but the referee all but ended his hopes when he intervened to adjust Gracie’s shorts. Gracie finished strong and nearly stopped Sakuraba with an armbar in the closing seconds.

The defeat snapped the 40-year-old Sakuraba’s two-fight winning streak. He now owns a 4-2 mark against the Gracies.

Gracie slams Sakuraba. Photo by Taro Irei/Sherdog.com

Meanwhile, World Extreme Cagefighting veteran Hiroyuki Takaya knocked out former Dream lightweight champion Joachim Hansen 4:27 into the opening round.

The two featherweights spent several moments in the clinch, with each of them trying and failing to put the fight on the ground. After they separated, Takaya wobbled Hansen with a straight right hand, pounced and landed a devastating right hook on the Norwegian’s exposed chin. The 2009 Dream featherweight grand prix finalist followed with a pair of right hands on the ground that left Hansen unconscious. Hansen had never before been knocked out.

Finally, Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto returned to form, as he flattened Team Quest’s Federico Lopez with punches in the first-round. Lopez met his demise 1:41 into round one.

Yamamoto entered the bout on a two-fight losing streak but quickly erased the memories of his recent decision losses to Joe Warren and Masanori Kanehara. The 33-year-old dropped Lopez with a clean right hook and followed him to the ground, where he ended it with a flurry of left hands on his prone foe.

Other Bouts
Akiyo Nishiura def. Hideo Tokoro -- TKO (Punches) 2:51 R1
Kazuyuki Miyata def. Takafumi Otsuka -- Split Decision
Kenji Osawa def. Yoshiro Maeda -- Split Decision
Ikuhisa Minowa def. Imani Lee -- Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) 4:16 R1

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