Here is a short history lesson on the first sanctioned MMA match in American History - "Judo" Gene Lebell VS Milo Savage, a top ranked boxer, in Salt Lake City, Utah, from December, 1963.
It was Judo VS Boxing in this match, and Gene Lebell came out on top with his Judo using a rear-naked choke.
Although his battered warrior's body nears the end of its fighting career, 桜庭 和志 — (Kazushi Sakuraba) remains a living legend in the sport of MMA, and an icon in the Martial Arts world in general.
His rare transition from fixed Pro Wrestling matches to the world of real combat saw his meteoric rise to popularity in his home country of Japan, as well as globally among Mixed Martial Arts fans. The popularity carried over from his Professional Wrestling background was only magnified when he proved a wrestler could compete in MMA by winning a UFC Japan event, and subsequently becoming the poster-boy for the then newly formed (since disbanded) PRIDE Fighting Championships organization.
His career has seen many ups and downs, from being on the winning end of a rivalry with the infamous Gracie clan (of BJJ fame), to facing the losing end of a rivalry with Brazilian Top Team and its then unstoppable force Wanderlei "the Axe Murderer" Silva. Overall, though this was a career that was truly legendary, and (if he ever does decide to retire that is) Sakuraba's warrior spirit, never-say-die attitude and unorthodox approach to combat will never be forgotten.