Wednesday, February 21, 2007


By Brian O’Hara

Former King of the Cage Lightweight Champion Mac Danzig (16-3-1) is nothing short of animated about the opportunity to fight his boyhood idol, Hayato Sakurai (29-7-2) at PRIDE’s “The Second Coming” this Saturday, February 24 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Danzig, 26, believes that being the underdog against the 31-year-old Japanese star still well-regarded in the game encourages his desire to be the best.

“I have always been looking for that big fight that was really going to push me to do everything that I possibly can, not only to improve as a fighter but also to put on a really, really good fight. Someone like Sakurai is the perfect person to do that with, so it’s a great fight for me. I am very motivated” says Danzig.

Danzig’s opponent Sakurai – who made his name besting some of the world’s top lightweight and welterweight fighters since 1996 - is a well-versed striker with impressive knockout ability. Shooto and PRIDE Bushido veteran Sakurai went undefeated in 2006 and poses a palpable threat to Danzig both standing and on the mat.

Danzig is a seasoned grappler himself though, capable of putting on a submission battle against Sakurai should he wish to take the test. With previous training experience under Frank Trigg, and polished kickboxing skills training out of the Legends Gym in Hollywood, California, five-foot-nine Danzig still understands that his work will be cut out for him in this contest.

“It’s a big step up, but this is something that I need in my career, and I don’t see anything bad coming from the fight either way,” says Danzig.

On a roll for some time, California native Danzig went undefeated for three years until Clay French threw out the road spikes at King of the Cage’s “Hard Knocks” earlier this year.

The type of fighter who constantly pushes the action, Danzig is known for his incredible work ethic. It comes as no shock that he has been recently training three times a day, splitting his time between Marc Laimon’s Cobra Kai Gym and Randy Couture’s new Xtreme Couture facility in Las Vegas.

“I train at Legends Gym in Hollywood where I teach, which is great because I have an excellent kickboxing coach, but other than that, there’s not a whole lot of consummate professionals there,” explains Danzig.” I had to go to Randy’s gym just to be around a group of guys that are there everyday putting in hard work just like me. The training is regimented, and that’s the kind of environment that you need in order to be successful.”

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