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Kazushi Sakuaba Returns to Pro Wrestling on New Year's Eve

Kazushi Sakuraba is set to participate on the New Year's Eve "Genki Desu Ka!!" card in Saitama, Japan -- as a pro wrestler.

Sakuraba, who made a name for himself in the mid-to-late 90s as a pro wrestler shortly before becoming a Japanese MMA superstar under the PRIDE banner, will partner with Laughter7 teammate Katsuyori Shibata against Shinichi Suzukawa and Atsushi Sawada in a tag team pro wrestling match.

A familiar face on New Year's Eve, Sakuraba has competed in MMA bouts on six of the last eight New Year's Eves. Sakuraba, 42, has lost his last four bouts and hasn't recorded a victory since his win over Zelg Galesic at Dream.12 in October 2009. Better known for his accomplishments as a pro wrestler, Shibata holds an unspectacular 4-11-1 MMA record.

Back on the MMA front, the promoters recently announced a women's MMA bout with Megumi Fujii taking on Karla Benitez. Fujii (24-1) has won her last two fights to bounce back from a split decision loss to Zoila Gurgel in the finals of the Bellator 115-pound women's tournament in October 2010. Benitez (6-1) fights out of Spain and is coming off the first loss of her career.

The current "Genki Desu Ka!!" lineup is below.

Dream Lightweight Title Bout

Shinya Aoki vs. Satoru Kitaoka

Dream Featherweight Title Bout

Hiroyuki Takaya vs. Takeshi "Lion" Inoue

Dream Bantamweight World GP

Semifinals: Bibiano Fernandes vs. Rodolfo Marques
Semifinals: Masakazu Imanari vs. Antonio Banuelos
Finals: Winner of Fernandes-Marques vs. Winner of Imanari-Banuelos
Reserve: Hideo Tokoro vs. Yusup Saadulaev

Other MMA Bouts

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Satoshi Ishii
Hayato "Mach" Sakurai vs. Ryo Chonan
Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Kazuyuki Miyata
Mixed Rules Bout
Yuichiro Nagashima vs. Katsunori Kikuno

Pro Wrestling Matches

Kazushi Sakuraba and Katsuyori Shibata vs. Shinichi Suzukawa and Atsushi Sawada
Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Peter Aerts