Susumu Nagao has been present at some of the most iconic events in MMA history, from the formative proto-Pride events in Japan to the early UFCs, all the way up to Rizin and modern day MMA spectaculars. Over the years he has photographed legends that are household names in mixed martial arts and grappling.
Kazushi Sakuraba needs no introduction – one of the most iconic grapplers / MMA fighters of all time, with legendary wins over the Gracie Family, a win at the first UFC Japan tournament, and a storied career as the biggest draw in Pride, the biggest MMA show that has ever existed. Sakuraba’s appeal has always been his ability to transcend the simple sport of fighting and elevate it to a human art form in his legendary performances, often with a wry grin on his face. This is perfectly embodied in this picture that we chose, taken from his iconic hour-long clash with the legend that is Royce Gracie at the Pride GP 2000.