Pancrase veteran Takashi Sato is heading to the UFC

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Takashi Sato is heading to the UFC. Photo: Akihito Tatematsu.

Japanese welterweight veteran Takashi Sato has inked a deal with the UFC.

The 28-year-old striker brings a 14-2 record to the promotion, having competed with the likes DEEP, Grandslam and, more recently, Pancrase.

At Pancrase 297 he made an unsuccessful run at its vacant welterweight belt, falling short at the hands of Glaico França (19-5). He returned three months later in the main event of Pancrase 300 to score a second-round TKO stoppage over Australia’s Matt Vaile (10-2).

Sources say he will face Ben Saunders (22-11-2) on 28 April in the undercard of UFC on ESPN 3: Romero vs. Jacaré 2. The UFC was unable to confirmed this.

Sato’s signing with the Las Vegas promotion comes at a critical turning point in Japanese MMA.

In the past month ONE Championship has struck deals with Shooto and Pancrase to encourage their roster of athletes to sign with ONE.

Several fighters have already crossed over, including Pancrase flyweight king Senzo Ikeda who will make his ONE Championship debut this weekend the ONE: A New Era card in Tokyo.

The UFC signing comes in the wake of two key deals in South Korea this week, with Top FC featherweight champ Choi Seung-Woo joining, alongside featherweight prospect and TFC alumni Jo Sung-Bin.

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