Sakara in the midst of a potential late-career renaissance
stands before a significant hurdle, one that few believe he can
American Top Team-trained Italian will challenge Rafael
Carvalho for the Bellator
MMA middleweight championship in the
Bellator 190 main event on Saturday at the Nelson Mandela Forum
in Florence, Italy. Sakara has rattled off three consecutive
victories, all of them finishes. The 36-year-old Brazilian
jiu-jitsu black belt last competed at Bellator 168 on Dec. 10, when
he brought down fellow
Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Joey
Beltran with first-round punches and improved to 2-0 as a
member of the Bellator MMA roster. Sakara rose to global prominence
during a 15-fight stint in the UFC that saw him deliver wins over
Valimaki, James Lee,
Leites and James
As the man they call “Legionarius” barrels toward his five-round
showdown with Carvalho, here are five things you might not know
1. He piles up the frequent-flyer miles.
Sakara has competed in nine different countries as professional
mixed martial artist. They are Italy, Austria, England, Canada,
Sweden, the United States, Brazil, South Korea and Russia. Those
appearances have taken place under the auspices of 14
organizations: Bellator MMA, Final Fight Championship, the UFC,
King of the Ring, Ring Fight, Jungle
Fight, Real Fight, World X-Impact Federation, Meca World Vale
Tudo, Martial Arts Day, La Resa Dei Conti, M-1
Cage Warriors Fighting Championship and Fight Night.
2. He prefers to knock off early whenever
Twelve of Sakara’s 19 professional victories have concluded inside
one round. They include 13-, 20-, 21-, 30-, 72-, 80-, 87-, 90- and
3. MMA was not his only combat sports
Sakara compiled an 8-1 record as a professional boxer between Aug.
30, 2004 and May 9, 2009, recording half a dozen wins by knockout
or technical knockout.
4. Home cooking suits him well.
Sakara has never tasted defeat in his home country, winning all
eight of his fights in Italy. Those victories have come against
Mastioli and Paolo Di
5. He could soon join some exclusive
With a win over the once-beaten Carvalho, Sakara can become the
fifth middleweight champion in Bellator history. Carvalho, Brandon
Shlemenko and American Top Team stablemate Hector
Lombard will have preceded him.