Hendo Meets Sakuraba in Grappling Contest, Rena Faces Andy Nguyen at RIZIN Autumn Grand Prix

Dan Henderson
Credit: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

Japan’s RIZIN Fighting Federation is bringing Hendo back to the Land of the Rising Sun. Dan Henderson, though retired from MMA, has agreed to a grappling contest against recent UFC Hall of Fame inductee Sakuraba. The match will take place as part of RIZIN’s Autumn Grand Prix card, to be held October 15 in Fukuoka, Japan. The promotion announced the news in a press release distributed today.

The crown jewel of the RIZIN Autumn Grand Prix card will be the promotion’s first women’s grand prix, to be held at atomweight. The first round will see promotional standout RENA (a.k.a. Rena Kubota) face current King of the Cage atomweight champ Andy “The Crasian” Nguyen. Kubota (4-0) has finished all four of her opponents under the RIZIN banner since making the jump to MMA from kickboxing in 2015. Nguyen (5-3), meanwhile, won the KOTC atomweight crown at KOTC Groundbreaking in May against Bi Nguyen. She’ll also be defending her title this weekend at KOTC: Counterstrike against Canadian Melissa Sophia Karagianis in a rematch of their 2015 bout.

RIZIN Chairman Noboyuki Sakakibara said in regards to the Grand Prix that “we are very excited to be able to hold the first ever woman’s GP, and we believe that with having the total amount of 10 million Japanese yen prize money, this is the biggest woman’s tournament in the world. I hope that we could continue this for the next 5, 10 years and look back at this event and say that this was the beginning.”

Saori Ishioka vs. Kanna Asakura is also set for the opening round of the atomweight grand prix.

For fans of Pride, a grappling bout between MMA legends Sakuraba and Dan Henderson will no doubt turn heads as well. The match is set to be held under RIZIN grappling rules. Sakuraba previously fought to a draw while partnered with Hideo Tokoro against Wanderlei Silva and Kiyoshi Tamura in a grappling match at RIZIN FF 1 in April 2016. Hendo, meanwhile, recently dropped a submission loss to Jon Jones at Submission Underground 2 last December.