Sasaki, Not Sakuraba, for Filho

By Jordan Breen Feb 11, 2010
Sakuraba. Sasaki. Same thing, right?

Brazilian MMA outlet Tatame is reporting that personally embattled middleweight Paulo Filho will take on UFC and Sengoku veteran Yuki Sasaki at the sixth edition of Bitetti Combat, scheduled for Feb. 25 in the nation's capital of Brasilia.

Filho is 3-0 since his now-infamous meltdown against Chael Sonnen in their November 2008 rematch. His last two bouts both came on Bitetti Combat cards, as he bested both Alex Schoenauer and an overmatched Tatsuhiko Nishizaka in lackluster affairs.

Sasaki, 33, fought just once in 2009 as he was outwrestled to a unanimous decision loss by Sean Salmon at "Fight Festival 26" in Helsinki, Finland.

The fight announcement will come as a disappointment for some gullible fans, the sorts who fall victim to 419 fraud. For whatever reason, bluster from Filho trainer Josuel Distak was reported on last month, in which he claimed that "Paulao" may be taking on MMA icon Kazushi Sakuraba on the card.

Of course, the idea of Sakuraba-Filho on a regional Brazilian show flies in the face of common sense. Although Sakuraba has gotten over his legendary fear of flying enough that he was able to fight stateside and train in Brazil, it's still nothing he's particularly hip to. On top of that, the 40-year-old "IQ Wrestler" doesn't have too many bouts left in his shopworn body, and those he does have will assuredly be reserved for Dream. A bout in Bitetti Combat would hardly offer Sakuraba his usual sort of commanding fight purse, while simultaneously robbing Fighting and Entertainment Group and Real Entertainment of an opportunity to trot their aging legend into the ring.

Fortunately, the Bitetti card is not without its charms: 205-pound prospect Glover Teixeira is scheduled to take on Jeff Monson (though Monson's legal woes may force a late replacement); Anderson Silva and Nogueira brothers sparring partner Fabio Maldondo will take on Alistair Overeem and mercurial-but-gifted Pride veteran Luiz "Buscape" Firmino will meet Francisco Drinaldo.

The card also features the return of Pride vet and former Chute Boxe jiu-jitsu coach Cristiano Marcello against Argentina's Luciano "Izzy" Correa, UFC veteran Danillo "Indio" Villefort taking on fast-rising Brazilian prospect Cassiano Tytschyo and an intriguing pairing of female bantamweights, as rugged unbeaten Ediene "India" Gomes will face Amanda Nunes, who dominated and upset standout Vanessa Porto in December.
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