Kazushi Sakuraba Closed Laughter 7, Takenori Sato’s Fight vs Baroni Still Up In The Air

Kazushi Sakuraba was the one that made PRIDE a very popular MMA event in Japan but he officially closed his gym / team "Laughter 7" on Dec 1st.According to the tweet by his number one student Takenori Sato, as of December 1st, Kazushi Sakuraba closed his gym and MMA team "Laughter 7".

Laughter 7 opened on April 1st, 2008, at Shinagawa ward in Tokyo.

Needless to say "The Gracie Hunter" was the biggest star in PRIDE but his popularity didn't particularly succeeded in DREAM.

While DREAM was going downhill, Sakuraba started slipping considerably. In fact he's been on a four-fight losing streak since 2010. And exposures in the main stream media has diminished drastically, and now, Sakuraba is not exactly a known name among the Japanese general populations.

When MMA is no longer popular in Japan and DREAM is not doing any show it must have been very difficult to have an increase of the membership at the gym especially at where their main task is to raise pro MMA fighters. At the same time, no DREAM shows meant no fight for Sakuraba as well.

According to Sato, Sakuraba told him, "Thank you till now."

Therefore, Sakuraba's gym is officially closed and Sato tweeted that he will be "freelance" from this month.

Speaking of Sato it seems like, a widely announced fight against Phil Baroni in Glory, is not going to happen. Instead, right now, Hayato "Mach" Sakurai is being considered for Baroni and another surprising issue here is that this fight might be agreed at 155 lbs. When is the last time Baroni made 155 lbs? But more than anything if this rumor is true then, why is Sato out? Or is he really out? We can expect the official announcement soon in regards to this Baroni fight issue.

Finally, besides Sakuraba and Sato, Katsuyori Shibata was the other notable pro fighter of Laughter 7.

Shibata is an ex-pro wrestler from New Japan Pro Wrestling.

He hasn't made any announcement yet but he is expected to be "freelance" just like Sato, at least, till end of this year, and so as the other seven pro fighters in the team.

Report by Shu Hirata
Photo courtesy of DEEP blog: The Wild Side of DEEP