Yuji Sakuragi

Yuji Sakuragi (桜木裕司, Sakuragi Yūji, born July 20, 1977) is a Japanese mixed martial artist, kickboxer, and professional wrestler, currently associated with Real Japan Pro Wrestling's team Seikendo.[1] He is known for his Kyokushin Karate background and his ability to score KO wins. In MMA, he competed for the Pancrase, M-1 Global, and DEEP promotions.

Yuji Sakuragi
2代目スーパータイガー.jpg
Sakuragi as Super Tiger in September 2016
BornYuji Sakuragi (桜木裕司, Sakuragi Yūji)
(1977-07-20) July 20, 1977 (age 42)
Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan
Other namesSuper Tiger (II)
NationalityJapanese
Height1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Weight95 kg (209 lb; 15.0 st)
DivisionHeavyweight
Light Heavyweight
Middleweight
Fighting out ofMiyazaki, Japan
TeamSeikendo[1]
Teacher(s)Satoru Sayama
RankBlack belt in Kyokushin Karate
Years active2000–present
Kickboxing record
Total12
Wins4
By knockout1
Losses8
By knockout7
Mixed martial arts record
Total44
Wins16
By knockout14
By decision2
Losses25
By knockout9
By submission8
By decision8
Draws2
No contests1
Other information
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog
last updated on: January 8, 2014

Sakuragi wrestles under the name of Super Tiger, being the second incarnation of the name used by his trainer Satoru Sayama.[2] He has also worked in promotions like All Japan Pro Wrestling, Battlarts, Dramatic Dream Team and Riki Choshu's Legend The Pro Wrestling.

Early lifeEdit

Yuji started training Kyokushin in middle school, and later joined the Japan Self-Defense Forces for a time. After his military tenure, he worked as a physical education teacher for the Nippon Sport Science University, where he met Satoru Sayama. Sakuragi moved to Sayama's Seikendo promotion and started training in order to be a professional mixed martial artist.

Mixed martial arts careerEdit

In 2005, after some unimpressive fights abroad, Sakuragi made his debut in Seikendo's partner company Pancrase with a high note, knocking out Kengo Watanabe with a head kick. The victory, as well as his performance against veteran Kazuo "Yoshiki" Takahashi, made him shine in the indy MMA scene. He became famous for his Kyokushin background, exemplified by his refinated striking and ability to score total KOs as opposed to TKOs or stoppages. Sakuragi was also famous for his flashy personal style, wearing hip hop and b-kei fashion, striking the military salute before his matches and paying his dues to the Yasukuni Shrine in special occasions.

In 2012, Sakuragi defeated Kazuo Takahashi at the promotion's Progress Tour event. The wrestling expert chose to trade strikes with Sakuragi, who landed a left hook at the second round and knocked him out cold, winning the fight.

On October 27, 2012, Sakuragi faced grappling expert Sanae Kikuta in a special fight in Grabaka under full vale tudo rules, without gloves and allowing elbows and headbutts. The bout was short, and saw Sakuragi landing a spinning back kick, sidestepping Kikuta's attempts to push him against the cage wall, and finally knocking him down with strikes.[3]

Sakuragi's next matchups against grapplers wouldn't be so successful, as he was choked out by Daiju Takase at DEEP Haleo Impact and defeated by Ryuta Sakurai in an upset knockout by flying knee at Cage Impact 2013.

Professional wrestling careerEdit

Real Japan Pro Wrestling (2007-present)Edit

In 2007, Sakuragi made his transition to professional wrestling as part of Sayama's Real Japan Pro Wrestling. He received the gimmick of Super Tiger II, the second incarnation of the character used by Sayama in Universal Wrestling Federation. Yuji wrestled under a purple and silver attire and mask, utilizing a style based around kicks and suplexes. His debut was against Ikuto Hidaka, a wrestler who had been especially approved by Sayama for Tiger II's debut, and later moved into a major feud with Tiger Shark.

Super Tiger challenged Alexander Otsuka for the RJPW Legend Championship in 2008, but he was defeated. Sakuragi then formed a steady team with Minoru Suzuki, getting victories over names like Yuki Ishikawa and Great Sasuke. In 2011, Super Tiger got finally the championship when he defeated Mitsuya Nagai in a title match. Tiger retained it successfully against Black Tiger V before trading the title once more with Nagai, and this time his reign was longer, defending it against Kazunari Murakami, Taka Kuno, Masashi Aoyagi and Great Tiger. However, he lost it in 2015, against Masakatsu Funaki.

Battlarts (2007-2011)Edit

The year of his debut, Super Tiger started wrestling in shoot-style promotion Battlarts as a RJPW representative. Tiger formed a tag team with Katsumi Usuda and competed extensely for the company, briefly feuding with Mitsuya Nagai and Yuki Ishikawa. In 2008, he participated in the B1 Climax 2009 Block B, where he got big wins over Munenori Sawa, Usuda and Bison Tagai, and went to face Ishikawa in the block's final match, but he was defeated. Super Tiger then teamed up with his long time rival Tiger Shark, though they broke up shortly after. His last match in Battlarts was a tag team match with Chocoball Mukai as a special referee, teaming up with Sanshu Tsubakichi to face Ryuji Walter and Alexander Otsuka in a losing effort.

All Japan Pro Wrestling (2016-present)Edit

Sakuragi debuted in All Japan Pro Wrestling as a RJPW representative for the Champion Carnival 2016. He scored important victories over Jun Akiyama and Daisuke Sekimoto, but otherwise his success was little. He didn't stop appearing in AJPW after the league, however, aligning himself with Suwama's stable Evolution. On 27 August, he and Suwama challenged Daisuke Sekimoto and Yuji Okabayashi for the AJPW World Tag Team Championship, being defeated. In December, Super Tiger and fellow Evolution member Hikaru Sato competed at the Real World Tag League 2016, though scoring only one win.

Championships and accomplishmentsEdit

KickboxingEdit

  • Universal Kickboxing Federation
    • UKF International Heavyweight Championship (1 time)

Mixed martial artsEdit

  • World Absolute Fighting Championship
    • WAFC Pankration Openweight Crown (2009)

Professional wrestlingEdit

Mixed martial arts recordEdit

Professional record breakdown
43 matches 16 wins 24 losses
By knockout 14 8
By submission 0 8
By decision 2 8
Draws 2
No contests 1
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 16–25–2 (1) Luis Santos TKO (punches) Real Fight Championship 4 March 12, 2016 1 1:27 Tokyo, Japan
Win 16-24–2 (1) Kang Chul Yoon TKO (punches) Real Fight Championship 3 2015|December|5} 2 0:19 Kanagawa, Japan Return to Heavyweight.
Loss 15–23–2 (1) Alan Baudot TKO (punches) Grandslam MMA 3: Way of the Cage September 12, 2015 1 2:35 Tokyo, Japan Openweight bout.
Win 15–22–2 (1) Shungo Oyama TKO (corner stoppage) Pancrase: 263 December 6, 2014 2 1:03 Tokyo, Japan Openweight bout.
Loss 14–22–2 (1) Kazuhiro Nakamura Submission (arm-triangle choke) DEEP: Cage Impact 2013 November 24, 2013 3 2:49 Tokyo, Japan Catchweight (88 kg) bout.
Loss 14–21–2 (1) Ryuta Sakurai KO (punch and flying knee) DEEP: Cage Impact 2013 June 15, 2013 1 1:04 Tokyo, Japan Middleweight debut.
Loss 14–20–2 (1) Daiju Takase Submission (guillotine choke) DEEP: Haleo Impact December 22, 2012 2 1:33 Tokyo, Japan
Win 14–19–2 (1) Sanae Kikuta KO (knee and soccer kick) Grabaka Live 2 October 27, 2012 1 0:35 Tokyo, Japan
Win 13–19–2 (1) Kazuo Takahashi KO (punch) Pancrase: Progress Tour 9 August 5, 2012 1 4:59 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 12–19–2 (1) Shinso Anzai Decision (unanimous) Pancrase: Progress Tour 3 March 11, 2012 2 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 12–18–2 (1) Kazuhisa Tazawa Submission (rear-naked choke) DEEP: 52 Impact February 25, 2011 2 0:54 Tokyo, Japan For the vacant DEEP Openweight Championship.
Draw 12–17–2 (1) Ryo Kawamura Draw Pancrase: Passion Tour 11 December 5, 2010 3 5:00 Tokyo, Japan For the King of Pancrase Light Heavyweight Championship.
Loss 12–17–1 (1) Alexander Grinchuk Decision (unanimous) FEFoMP: Impact League 4 October 16, 2010 3 5:00 Khabarovsk, Russia Heavyweight bout.
Win 12–16–1 (1) Ryo Kawamura TKO (Punches) Pancrase: Passion Tour 8 September 5, 2010 1 3:55 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 11–16–1 (1) Christian M'Pumbu TKO (punches) Deep: 46 Impact February 28, 2010 1 2:29 Tokyo, Japan DEEP Light Heavyweight Tournament Quarterfinal.
Win 11–15–1 (1) Alavutdin Gadjiev KO (knee) FEFoMP: Impact League 2 October 17, 2009 1 0:30 Khabarovsk, Russia
Loss 10–15–1 (1) Hans Stringer TKO (punches) DEEP: 43 Impact August 23, 2009 2 2:11 Tokyo, Japan
Win 10–14–1 (1) Minoru Kato KO (punch) DEEP: 41 Impact April 17, 2009 2 0:59 Tokyo, Japan Return to Light Heavyweight.
Loss 9–14–1 (1) Rogent Lloret Decision (unanimous) M-1 Challenge 8: USA October 29, 2008 2 0:59 Kansas, United States
Loss 9–13–1 (1) Stefan Struve Submission (triangle choke) M-1 Challenge 6: Korea August 29, 2008 1 2:30 Seoul, South Korea
Loss 9–12–1 (1) Kamil Uygun TKO (punches) M-1 Challenge 5: Japan July 17, 2008 1 4:52 Tokyo, Japan Light Heavyweight bout.
Loss 9–11–1 (1) Besiki Gerenava TKO (punches) M-1 Challenge 2: Russia April 3, 2008 2 5:00 St. Petersburg, Russia
Win 9–10–1 (1) Kenichi Shinohara TKO (punches) MARS 11: 2nd Anniversary February 2, 2008 1 1:34 Tokyo, Japan Light Heavyweight bout.
Draw 8–10–1 (1) Hidetada Irie Draw DEEP: 33 Impact December 12, 2007 3 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 8–10 (1) Yuki Kondo Decision (unanimous) Pancrase: Rising 8 October 14, 2007 3 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 8–9 (1) Katsuhisa Fujii Decision (majority) DEEP: Glove July 26, 2007 2 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 8–8 (1) Basil Yamilkhanov TKO (doctor stoppage) FEFoMP: Mayor Cup 2007 May 26, 2007 1 0:38 Khabarovsk, Russia Lost the Mayor Cup Heavyweight Championship.
Win 8–7 (1) Nikolai Onikienko Decision (unanimous) FEFoMP: Mayor Cup 2007 May 26, 2007 2 5:00 Khabarovsk, Russia Return to Heavyweight; won the Mayor Cup Heavyweight Championship.
Loss 7–7 (1) Yasuhito Namekawa Submission (heel hook) Deep: 29 Impact April 13, 2007 1 2:12 Tokyo, Japan 90 kg bout.
Win 7–6 (1) Fabiano Aoki TKO (injury) MARS 6: Rapid Fire December 22, 2006 2 1:55 Tokyo, Japan 97 kg bout.
NC 6–6 (1) Fabiano Aoki No Contest (accidental low blow) MARS 5: Marching On October 28, 2006 1 0:17 Tokyo, Japan 97 kg bout.
Loss 6–6 Tatsuya Mizuno Submission (rear-naked choke) Pancrase: Blow 7 September 17, 2006 2 2:30 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 6–5 Riki Fukuda Decision (unanimous) Pancrase: 2006 Neo-Blood Tournament Finals July 28, 2006 2 5:00 Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
Loss 6–4 Poai Suganuma TKO (punches) Pancrase: Blow 4 May 2, 2006 1 1:47 Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
Win 6–3 Hikaru Sato TKO (soccer kicks) Pancrase: Blow 1 January 26, 2006 1 0:55 Tokyo, Japan
Win 5–3 Jimmy Akishige KO (punch) RJPW: Legend Championship December 16, 2005 1 1:55 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 4–3 Hideki Tadao Submission (arm-triangle choke) Pancrase: Spiral 8 October 2, 2005 2 3:33 Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
Win 4–2 Yuta Nakamura Decision (unanimous) Pancrase: Z September 3, 2005 2 5:00 Kumamoto, Japan
Win 3–2 Aslan Dzeboev KO (body kick) Pancrase: Spiral 6 July 31, 2005 2 1:31 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 2–2 Kazuo Takahashi Submission (armbar) Pancrase: Spiral 5 July 10, 2005 2 3:01 Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
Win 2–1 Kengo Watanabe KO (high kick) Pancrase: Spiral 1 February 4, 2005 3 0:06 Tokyo, Japan
Win 1–1 Sung Chu Kim TKO (punches) Gladiator FC: Day 2 June 27, 2004 1 0:42 Seoul, South Korea
Loss 0–1 Eduard Churakov Decision (unanimous) Seikendo: SWA Ultimate Boxing October 29, 2000 3 3:00 Tokyo, Japan

Submission grappling recordEdit

Result Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Notes
Loss   Marcos de Souza Submission (rear-naked choke) DEEP X 3 2008 1 3:53

Kickboxing recordEdit

Kickboxing record

Legend:   Win   Loss   Draw/No contest

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Yuji Sakuragi profile". Sherdog. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  2. ^ "Profile at Puroresu Central". Puroresu Central. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  3. ^ Grabaka Live! 2 – 10/27/2012: Sakuragi KO’d Kikuta in a Bare Knuckle MMA Fight – Full Result
  4. ^ "Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) 500 for 2017". The Internet Wrestling Database. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  5. ^ 清水賢吾、桜木裕司に1R KO勝ち。菅原勇介、復帰戦は判定負け:1.24 後楽園(in Japanese)

External linksEdit