Wanderlei Silva returns to the site of some of his biggest career wins this weekend, while opponent Brian Stann returns to his birthplace, as they battle in the main event of UFC on Fuel 8 on Saturday night U.S. time and Sunday afternoon in Japan.
The Saitama Super Arena was a regular home base for the Pride Fighting Championship in the days Silva (34-12-1, 1 no contest) was one of the biggest stars. This weekend's fight will be his 14th in the arena. Sporting a 10-3 record against a who's who of superstars of the era, Silva tries to follow up on wins over a number of major names including Kazushi Sakuraba (twice), Guy Mezger, Dan Henderson, Rampage Jackson, Ricardo Arona and Kiyoshi Tamura.
But it's more than six years since those glory days as the 36-year-old war-torn veteran hopes the familiar surroundings will be a fountain of youth as he faces Stann (12-5) in a five-round fight.
While nicknamed "The All-American," a former college football player at the Navy, turned war hero, turned MMA star, Stann was actually born just 19 miles from the arena at the Yokota Air Base.
Stann weighed in at 206 pounds, while Silva was 204 pounds, as both men move up from the middleweight division. For Silva, it's a test to return to the weight class he competed most of his career. For Stann, it's a one-time stop as a light heavyweight to take a fight with someone he describes as one of his heroes, before moving back to middleweight next time around.
As expected, Silva was the most popular athlete to the Japanese crowd, which clearly remembered his big wins during the heyday of the sport in that country.
There were no major incidents at the weigh-in, past Diego Sanchez missing weight by two pounds, coming in at 158, for his fight with a no-longer bleached blonde Takanori Gomi, who came in at 156. Gomi was another of the former stars of Pride returning to home base.
The third major star from Japan's heyday, Mark Hunt, weighed in at 266 pounds, for his fight with Stefan Struve, who was 260. Even though the two were only a few pounds apart, they couldn't have looked more different, given Struve is 7-feet tall and Hunt is closer to 5-foot-10.
Facebook fights starting at 7:30 p.m. ET
Hyun Gyu Lim (171) vs. Marcelo Guimaraes (171)
Kyung Ho Kang (135) vs. Alex Caceres (136)
Kazuki Tokudome (155) vs. Cristiano Marcello (156)
Bryan Caraway (135) vs. Takeya Mizugaki (136)
Brad Tavares (185) vs. Riki Fukuda (186)
Live on Fuel at 10 p.m. ET
Siyar Bahadurzada (171) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (171)
Rani Yahya (146) vs. Mizuto Hirota (146)
Hector Lombard (186) vs. Yushin Okami (185)
Diego Sanchez (158) vs. Takanori Gomi (156)
Stefan Struve (260) vs. Mark Hunt (266)
Brian Stann (206) vs. Wanderlei Silva (204)