HERO'S parent company Fight Entertainment Group has officially added three bouts to the line-up of its March 12 card at Nagoya Rainbow Hall, with some considerable starpower.
The card will see Japanese icon Kazushi Sakuraba (Pictures) in his first in-ring action after the Yoshihiro Akiyama (Pictures) greasing controversy, which embroiled the Japanese fight industry in early 2007. The return to the ring for "The Gracie Hunter" will be a soft touch, as he is scheduled to meet unheralded Ukrainian "Playboy" Jurij Kiselov. The 30-year-old Kiselov's most notable competition has come in the Lithuanian HERO'S events, where he has suffered two unceremonious knockout losses.
Devastating Dutch striker "Marvellous" Melvin Manhoef (Pictures) will return to HERO'S competition for the first time since his loss to the aforementioned Akiyama in the HERO'S 2006 187-pound tournament final last October. Manhoef will take on former King of Pancrase Yoshiki Takahashi (Pictures), who has just returned to Japan after spending the last few weeks in Costa Rica for the filming of bodogFight, in which Takahashi took on Mark Burch (Pictures).
Also, veteran Yoshihisa Yamamoto (Pictures) will take on a fellow former pro-wrestler Katsuyori Shibata. The 27-year-old Shibata has fought one MMA bout, defeating another pro-wrestler, Ice Man, at Jungle Fight in May of 2004. Shibata has since dedicated himself to mixed martial arts training under Pancrase pioneer Masakatsu Funaki.