Hayato Sakurai

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Hayato Sakurai
Hayato Sakurai.jpg
Sakurai in 2007
Born (1975-08-24) August 24, 1975 (age 41)
Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
Other names Mach, Yasei no Charisma (Wild Charisma)
Nationality Japanese
Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Weight 76 kg (168 lb; 12.0 st)
Division Welterweight
Team Kiguchi Dojo
Gutsman Shooto Dojo
Mach Dojo[1]
Teacher(s) Noboru Asahi
Naoki Sakurada
Noriaki Kiguchi
Caesar Takeshi
Rank Honorary black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu[2]
Mixed martial arts record
Total 52
Wins 37
By knockout 11
By submission 10
By decision 16
Losses 13
By knockout 5
By submission 4
By decision 4
Draws 2
Other information
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog
Hayato Sakurai
Medal record
Submission Wrestling
ADCC World Championship
Bronze medal – third place 1999 -77kg
Silver medal – second place 1999 Openweight

Hayato Sakurai (桜井 速人 Sakurai Hayato?, マッハ Mahha, born August 24, 1975) is a Japanese mixed martial artist. A professional competitor since 1996, he has formerly competed for the UFC, PRIDE, DREAM, Shooto, Vale Tudo Japan, DEEP, and participated in the Yarennoka!, Dynamite!! 2008, Dynamite!! 2009, Dynamite!! 2010, and Fight For Japan: Genki Desu Ka Omisoka 2011 events. Sakurai finished second (Silver) in the Absolute Class (no weight limit) ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship in 1999 at just under 77 kg. During the height of his career in 2000 and 2001 he was considered to be one of the top pound for pound fighters in MMA. He is the former Shooto Middleweight Champion.

His nickname, "Mach", pronounced ma-ha in Japanese was taken as a tribute to his childhood professional wrestling hero, Higo Shigehisashi better known as Mach Hayato, the first Japanese professional wrestler to completely embrace the Mexican style of lucha libre and was also among the group of professional wrestlers who made the transition to shoot wrestling as part of the original UWF movement.


Sakurai began training in judo during middle school, gaining several championships and then also began training in karate. During high school, he became friends with fellow combat sportsmen Michihiro Omigawa and Kazuyuki Miyata. He later became interested in shootboxing and joined Caesar Takeshi's dojo, competing for his promotion during years. In 1996, he wandered in mixed martial arts and entered Kiguchi Dojo, where he trained with Shooto members Noriaki Kiguchi and Noboru Asahi. At the end, he was scouted by Shooto founder himself, Satoru Sayama, and ended joining the Shooto organization along with a young Takanori Gomi.[3]

Mixed martial arts career[edit]


Joining Naoki Sakurada's Gutsman team, Sakurai made his professional debut in Shooto on October 4, 1996 by submitting Caol Uno. Over the next five years he would go undefeated in eighteen bouts, representing the promotion in three consecutive victories at the renowned Vale Tudo Japan event, as well as French MMA promotion Golden Trophy 1999. Hayato would also win that organization's Shooto Middleweight Champion from Jutaro Nakao, which he defended before Tetsuji Kato.

In a less official light, he contended with Rumina Sato for the fastest victory at the time, knocking out Ademir Oliveira with a spectacular flying knee in 0:34 seconds moments before Sato beat him with a flying armbar in 0:08 against Charles Diaz.[4]

During his final times on the company, Sakurai also faced future UFC challenger Frank Trigg in an exciting battle. The two brawled in the clinch, with Trigg landing knees while Hayato threw punches and kicks to the body and leg; at one instance, Trigg almost knocked out Sakurai, stunning him and landing multiple undefended punches both standing and on the ground which drew blood. Trigg continued dominating through the second round, until Sakurai finally came back knocking him down with a left hook, and he managed to finish the fight with multiple knee strikes to the face, winning by KO.[5]

In August 2001, Sakurai was finally defeated by future longtime UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, losing his championship title. After the loss, and subsequent to a severe car accident, Sakurai stopped fighting for Shooto full-time.

Ultimate Fighting Championship[edit]

On March 22, 2002, Sakurai stepped into Ultimate Fighting Championship to fight the UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes at UFC 36. Hughes started the match taking down Sakurai repeatedly, but the Japanese worked submission attempts from the bottom and managed to capture Hughes's back. The second round saw Hayato landing a solid left hand and a knee to the head, which Hughes got back on the third by slamming the Japanese hard on the mat with a takedown and landing several strikes on the ground. The fourth would see the final action, with Hughes managing to knock down Sakurai and perform ground and pound until the referee stopped the fight.


After losing to Hughes, Sakurai fought periodically in Shooto and DEEP before joining PRIDE Fighting Championships, Japan's largest MMA organization. During this time he was inconsistent in his performances, often losing to much lower-ranked opponents. He also attempted to fight at 183 lb (83 kg)., but it was clear that his frame was far too small for that weight, and his performances suffered. Some speculated Sakurai's seeming loss of spirit and mental focus came from his infamous car accident he suffered after fighting Silva.[6]

Sakurai made an underwhelming debut before Daiju Takase in PRIDE Shockwave 2003. Takase controlled a part of the first round, taking down Sakurai and bloodying his nose with punches. At this point, however, Mach started coming back, hijacking the standing segments with superior striking and negating Takase's submission attempts in order to do damage through his guard. The Shooto fighter ended the fight taking down Takase several times and controlling the action, which gained him a unanimous decision.

In his next apparitions for PRIDE Bushido, Sakurai would face two members of the Gracie family, Rodrigo and Crosley, but he was unsuccessful in both ventures. He fought an uneventful match against the former, stopping him from passing guard for the first round and being stopped himself from passing guard in the second, before receiving some knees to the head which gained Gracie the decision; and he then lost by submission to the latter, despite him showing a better performance until the last minutes.

In 2005 Sakurai regained focus and went to the US to train with legendary Pancrase coach Matt Hume. It was announced that he would drop down to 160 lb (73 kg). in order to participate in the PRIDE Lightweight Grand Prix. Despite his revered and legendary early career some questioned if Sakurai could make an impact in the division. Sakurai silenced his critics when he defeated former UFC Lightweight Champion Jens Pulver and former Shooto Lightweight Champion Joachim Hansen on the same night to advance to the tournament finals.

The match with Pulver was specially acclaimed, as it featured high speed and an exciting give and take. Sakurai peppered his opponent with strikes and kicks before receiving a left hand which seemed to put him down. He recovered and injured Pulver's eye with a combo, only to immediately land a front kick directly to the same eye, but then Hayato received another sudden left hook, which anticipated a possible finish. However, for a second time, Sakurai came back and pressed action, finally bringing him down with a body shot and a knee strike for the TKO. The bout was called "awesome" and "Fight of the Year Contender-level" by analyst Scott Newman.[7] Similarly back and forth would be the fight against Hansen: the two fighters exchanged strikes, hip throws and leglocks through the entire bout, while Sakurai landed spinning back kicks and a close armbar attempt. Sakurai got the decision win, and it set off a match in the finals against Takanori Gomi, Sakurai's former colleague and training partner.

On December 31, 2005 Sakurai fought Gomi for the first ever PRIDE Fighting Championships 160 lb (73 kg) championship of the world. Although fighting with a torn ACL he suffered in training just three weeks prior to the fight, though this was not known outside of his coaching circle at the time, Sakurai initially had the upper-hand, pounding Gomi with brutal inside-leg kicks. A few minutes into the round Sakurai attempted a judo throw, but the ring ropes got in the way and caused him to crash head first on the mat with Gomi taking his back. Takanori capitalized and rained down punches on him, and although Sakurai was able to return to his feet, he was overwhelmed and knocked out with a punching combo.

Despite the loss to Gomi, Sakurai would continue to impress with his performances. At Bushido 11 he scored a brutal knockout over WEC veteran Olaf Alfonso.[8] On August 26, 2006, Mach fought Brazilian Luciano Azevedo at Bushido 12. After several minutes of attempted ground and pound by Azevedo, the fighters were stood back up. Mach then consistently stuffed Azevedo's takedowns, and landed a fight-ending knee on Azevedo over his left eye. The fight was stopped, TKO by cut.

Sakurai fought against former King of the Cage Lightweight Champion and future The Ultimate Fighter 6 Winner Mac Danzig at PRIDE 33. Sakurai won the fight via knockout in the second round. Sakurai was then defeated by David Baron by submission in the first round. Sakurai then defeated Kuniyoshi Hironaka via unanimous decision. Sakurai then went on to defeat professional wrestler Katsuyori Shibata by TKO at Dynamite!! 2008. In a shocking start, Shibata charged across the ring and almost fell through the ropes when Sakurai dodged him, and then unloaded all his offensive with the intention to end the fight early, but Hayato took him down and punished him methodically until the stoppage.


After PRIDE's folding, Sakurai joined its offshoot promotion DREAM, in whose Welterweight Grand Prix he took part. He faced top-ranked lightweight Shinya Aoki at DREAM 8 in a match with revenge overtones, as Sakurai had defeated Aoki back in Shooto in what was called a controversial decision. This time, Sakurai won in impressive fashion, sweeping over a charging Aoki and delivering knees to the head and punches for a KO at 0:27. He then lost at DREAM 10 in the semi-final of the tournament to eventual winner Marius Zaromskis in a huge upset, conceding the loss via knockout from a head kick and punches.

At Dynamite!! 2009 New Year's Eve show in Saitama, Sakurai fought against another Shooto legend, Akihiro Gono. Sakurai controlled the fight early on, outstriking Gono both standing and from the half guard, but eventually lost via armbar submission in the second round. He fought Nick Diaz at DREAM 14 and was caught in an armbar submission again. After this fight he has speculated on retiring saying that he was good physically, but not mentally.[9]

Sakurai was to have a rematch against Marius Žaromskis in DREAM 17 a non-title fight.[10] However, he injured his leg which has forced off of the DREAM 17 card and was replaced by Eiji Ishikawa.[11]

Sakurai returned at Fight For Japan: Genki Desu Ka Omisoka 2011 where he faced Ryo Chonan. He won the fight via unanimous decision.[12]

He then faced Phil Baroni at the subsequent New Year's card by Dream, DREAM 18, defeating him via unanimous decision.[13]


Almost a year later, Sakurai returned to face Jae Suk Lim at Mach Dojo / Gladiator: Mach Festival. Sakurai lost by TKO in the first round.

He competed in the Tokyo International Jiu-Jitsu Open Championship 2009, ranking himself as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt for his grappling expertise. He opened the first round against Akira Uemura, but was eliminated.

Fighting style[edit]

Sakurai was renowned for his well rounded set of skills, excelling on every field of the MMA game. On the stand-up, he favoured grinding low kicks and an advanced boxing, along with a wide usage of knee strikes, including flying knees.[6] A prolific clinch user, although he was not a high level judoka, Sakurai excelled in performing hip throws during his matches, favouring o goshi, uki goshi and ippon seoi nage.[6] Finally, his grappling technique was one of his biggest strengths, using his shoot wrestling expertise to great effect. He was the only user of this discipline in reaching the ADCC finals both in his weight and absolute division,[6] submitting heavier and more decorated grapplers like Ricco Rodriguez and Vinny Magalhães.

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Mixed martial arts record[edit]

Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 37–13–2 Jae Suk Lim TKO (punches) Mach Dojo / Gladiator: Mach Festival September 29, 2013 1 5:21 Tokyo, Japan
Win 37–12–2 Phil Baroni Decision (unanimous) DREAM 18 December 31, 2012 3 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 36–12–2 Ryo Chonan Decision (unanimous) Fight For Japan: Genki Desu Ka Omisoka 2011 December 31, 2011 3 5:00 Saitama, Japan
Loss 35–12–2 Jason High Decision (split) Dynamite!! 2010 December 31, 2010 3 5:00 Saitama, Japan
Loss 35–11–2 Nick Diaz Submission (armbar) DREAM 14 May 29, 2010 1 3:54 Saitama, Japan Non-title bout
Loss 35–10–2 Akihiro Gono Submission (armbar) Dynamite!! The Power of Courage 2009 December 31, 2009 2 3:56 Saitama, Japan
Loss 35–9–2 Marius Žaromskis KO (head kick) DREAM 10 July 20, 2009 1 4:03 Saitama, Japan DREAM Welterweight Grand Prix Semifinal Round
Win 35–8–2 Shinya Aoki KO (knees & punches) DREAM 8 April 5, 2009 1 0:27 Nagoya, Japan DREAM Welterweight Grand Prix Opening Round
Win 34–8–2 Katsuyori Shibata TKO (punches) Fields Dynamite!! 2008 December 31, 2008 1 7:01 Saitama, Japan
Win 33–8–2 Kuniyoshi Hironaka Decision (unanimous) Dream 6: Middleweight Grand Prix 2008 Final Round September 23, 2008 2 5:00 Saitama, Japan
Loss 32–8–2 David Baron Submission (guillotine choke) Shooto: Shooto Tradition 1 May 3, 2008 1 4:50 Tokyo, Japan
Win 32–7–2 Hidetaka Monma TKO (punches) Dream 1: Lightweight Grand Prix 2008 First Round March 15, 2008 1 4:12 Saitama, Japan
Win 31–7–2 Hidehiko Hasegawa Decision (unanimous) Yarennoka! December 31, 2007 3 5:00 Saitama, Japan
Win 30–7–2 Mac Danzig KO (punch) PRIDE 33 February 24, 2007 2 4:01 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 29–7–2 Luciano Azevedo TKO (doctor stoppage) Pride - Bushido 12 August 26, 2006 1 4:35 Nagoya, Japan
Win 28–7–2 Olaf Alfonso KO (punch) Pride - Bushido 11 June 4, 2006 1 1:54 Saitama, Japan
Loss 27–7–2 Takanori Gomi KO (punches) Pride FC: Shockwave 2005 December 31, 2005 1 3:56 Saitama, Japan Final of PRIDE Lightweight Grand Prix to crown inaugural PRIDE Lightweight Champion.
Win 27–6–2 Joachim Hansen Decision (unanimous) Pride: Bushido 9 September 25, 2005 2 5:00 Tokyo, Japan Semifinal of PRIDE Lightweight Grand Prix
Win 26–6–2 Jens Pulver TKO (punches) Pride: Bushido 9 September 25, 2005 1 8:56 Tokyo, Japan Opening Round of PRIDE Lightweight Grand Prix
Win 25–6–2 Shinya Aoki Decision (unanimous) Shooto: Alive Road August 20, 2005 3 5:00 Yokohama, Japan
Win 24–6–2 Milton Vieira Decision (split) Pride: Bushido 7 May 22, 2005 2 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 23–6–2 Crosley Gracie Submission (armbar) PRIDE Bushido 5 October 14, 2004 2 1:02 Osaka, Japan
Win 23–5–2 Brady Fink Submission (guillotine choke) PRIDE Bushido 4 July 19, 2004 1 4:08 Nagoya, Japan
Loss 22–5–2 Rodrigo Gracie Decision (unanimous) PRIDE Bushido 2 February 15, 2004 2 5:00 Yokohama, Japan
Win 22–4–2 Daiju Takase Decision (unanimous) PRIDE Shockwave 2003 December 31, 2003 3 5:00 Saitama, Japan
Loss 21–4–2 Ryo Chonan TKO (cut) Deep - 12th Impact September 15, 2003 3 2:10 Japan
Win 21–3–2 Dave Menne TKO (cut) DEEP: 10th Impact June 25, 2003 2 2:02 Japan
Win 20–3–2 Ryuki Ueyama Decision (unanimous) Deep - 8th Impact March 4, 2003 3 5:00 Japan
Loss 19–3–2 Jake Shields Decision (unanimous) Shooto: Year End Show 2002 December 14, 2002 3 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 19–2–2 Matt Hughes TKO (strikes) UFC 36 March 22, 2002 4 3:01 Las Vegas, United States For UFC Welterweight Championship
Win 19–1–2 Dan Gilbert Submission (heel hook) Shooto: To The Top Final Act December 16, 2001 1 1:52 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 18–1–2 Anderson Silva Decision (unanimous) Shooto: To The Top 7 August 26, 2001 3 5:00 Japan Lost Shooto Middleweight Championship
Win 18–0–2 Jean Louis Alberch Decision GT: Golden Trophy 2001 March 1, 2001 2 3:00 France
Win 17–0–2 Frank Trigg KO (knees) Shooto: R.E.A.D. Final December 17, 2000 2 2:25 Tokyo, Japan
Win 16–0–2 Luiz Azeredo Decision (unanimous) Shooto: R.E.A.D. 8 August 4, 2000 3 5:00 Osaka, Japan
Win 15–0–2 Tetsuji Kato Decision (split) Shooto: R.E.A.D. 2 March 17, 2000 3 5:00 Tokyo, Japan Defended Shooto Middleweight Championship
Win 14–0–2 Haroldo Bunn TKO (punches) VTJ 1999: Vale Tudo Japan 1999 December 11, 1999 3 1:31 Tokyo, Japan
Win 13–0–2 Brad Aird Submission (armbar) Shooto: Renaxis 2 July 16, 1999 1 0:37 Tokyo, Japan
Win 12–0–2 Marcelo Aguiar Decision (unanimous) Shooto: 10th Anniversary Event May 29, 1999 3 5:00 Yokohama, Japan
Win 11–0–2 Jean Louis Alberch Submission (armbar) GT: Golden Trophy 1999 March 20, 1999 1 0:33 France
Win 10–0–2 Damien Riccio Decision GT: Golden Trophy 1999 March 20, 1999 1 5:00 France
Win 9–0–2 James Schiavo Submission (toe hold) GT: Golden Trophy 1999 March 20, 1999 1 0:26 France
Win 8–0–2 Ademir Oliveira KO (flying knee) Shooto: Devilock Fighters January 15, 1999 1 0:34 Tokyo, Japan
Win 7–0–2 Sergei Bytchkov Submission (armbar) VTJ 1998: Vale Tudo Japan 1998 October 28, 1998 1 4:59 Japan
Win 6–0–2 Ronny Rivano Submission (rear-naked choke) Shooto: Las Grandes Viajes 4 July 29, 1998 1 1:10 Tokyo, Japan
Win 5–0–2 Jutaro Nakao Decision (unanimous) Shooto: Las Grandes Viajes 3 May 13, 1998 3 5:00 Tokyo, Japan Won Shooto Middleweight Championship
Draw 4–0–2 Marcelo Aguiar Draw VTJ 1997: Vale Tudo Japan 1997 November 29, 1997 3 8:00 Japan
Win 4–0–1 Alex Cook Submission (rear naked choke) Shooto: Reconquista 4 October 12, 1997 1 1:09 Tokyo, Japan
Win 3–0–1 Ali Elias Submission (armbar) Shooto: Reconquista 3 August 27, 1997 1 1:23 Tokyo, Japan
Win 2–0–1 Hiroyuki Kojima Decision (unanimous) Shooto: Gig June 25, 1997 2 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Draw 1–0–1 Takuya Kuwabara Draw Shooto: Reconquista 1 January 18, 1997 3 3:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 1–0 Caol Uno Submission (armbar) Shooto: Let's Get Lost October 4, 1996 1 2:52 Tokyo, Japan

Legend:   Win   Loss   Draw/No contest

Mixed martial arts exhibition record[edit]

Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Draw 0-0-1 Rumina Sato Technical Draw World&Wild 1 April 4, 2008 1 3:00 Tokyo, Japan

Kickboxing record[edit]

Kickboxing record

Legend:   Win   Loss   Draw/No contest

Submission grappling record[edit]

Result Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Notes
Loss Brazil Israel Alburquerque Points ADCC 2000 –77 kg 2000 1
Loss Brazil Roberto Traven Points ADCC 1999 Absolute 1999 20:00
Win United States Ricco Rodriguez Points ADCC 1999 Absolute 1999 10:00
Win Brazil Vinicius Magalhaes Points ADCC 1999 Absolute 1999 15:00
Win Brazil Eddie Ruiz Submission ADCC 1999 –77 kg 1999 1 00:17
Loss Brazil Jean-Jacques Machado Submission ADCC 1999 –77 kg 1999 1 5:09
Win Brazil Fabiano Iha Points ADCC 1999 –77 kg 1999 10:00
Win Brazil Andre Pederneiras ADCC 1999 –77 kg 1999 15:00


  1. ^ "Fight Finder: "Mach" Sakurai". Sherdog. 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  2. ^ "Male Adult Black Meio-Pesado". TOKYO INTERNATIONAL JIU-JITSU OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP 2009. Retrieved November 24, 2009. 
  3. ^ Scientific Wrestling - Catch Wrestling. "MACH Revival Go". 
  4. ^ Japan's MMA Roots: An Interview With Rumina Sato
  5. ^ Forgotten Fights, Volume 1 - Hayato Sakurai Vs. Frank Trigg, Bloodyelbow.com
  6. ^ a b c d Snowden, Jonathan. MMA Encyclopedia, ECW Press, 2010
  7. ^ Scott Newman (2013-10-06). "MMA Review: #74: PRIDE Bushido Vol.9 The Tournament". The Oratory. Retrieved 2016-04-03. 
  8. ^ Greatest Pride Fighting Knockouts, video of Sakurai's match with Olaf Alfonso, retrieved on February 16, 2007
  9. ^ "Aoki Likely For DEEP: 50th Impact, Sakurai In Talks". MMARising.com. Retrieved 2010-09-13. 
  10. ^ [1] Archived June 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Daniel Herbertson (14 July 2011). "Hayato 'Mach' Sakurai Injured, Pulls Out of Zaromskis Fight at DREAM". MMA Fighting. 
  12. ^ Anton Tabuena (31 December 2012). "DREAM 18 - Glory 4 Results and Gifs: Hayato Sakurai Defeats Phil Baroni by Decision". Bloody Elbow. 
  13. ^ Anton Tabuena (26 November 2012). "DREAM 18 - GLORY 4 NYE Card: Phil Baroni vs. Hayato Sakurai, 16-man HW tourney set". Bloody Elbow. 

External links[edit]