WWE Superstar Shinsuke Nakamura Corners Rei Tsuruya in UFC 303 Debut

Japanese WWE superstar Shinsuke Nakamura will corner fellow countryman Rei Tsuruya for his upcoming fight against Carlos Hernandez at UFC 303 on Saturday in Las Vegas. Nakamura posted on X that he would be in the 22-year-old’s corner on Saturday.

“Fight the world at #ufc @ufc Please support Rei Tsuruya @mma_rei,” Nakamura wrote. “Shinsuke Nakamura finishes second to Rei Tsuruya in UFC debut, internet goes crazy with comments like ‘Yaaaaaw!’ and ‘Seriously?’”

WWE officials confirmed the news with ESPN on Thursday.

While Nakamura may be best known for his exploits in the WWE as a former Intercontinental, United States and NXT Champion, he is also a former three-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion during his time in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, competing five times in MMA from 2002-2004 with a record of 3-1 (1 no contest). All three of Nakamura’s victories came by submission, as his in-ring performance and “King of Strong Style” have been heavily influenced by MMA throughout his professional wrestling career.

Tsuruya is a highly touted flyweight prospect who earned a UFC contract in February on Road to UFC 2 with a TKO victory over Jiniushiyue, a competition designed for prospects in Asia. The 22-year-old has an undefeated MMA record of 9-0 with eight finishes and will make his official UFC debut on Saturday against Hernandez, who has a 9-3 record and a 2-2 mark in the UFC so far .

With the UFC and WWE operating under the TKO Group umbrella, it’s not surprising to take advantage of a crossover opportunity like this. WWE heads to Japan for the first time in five years in July for the WWE Supershow Summer Tour with three live shows. The first show will take place in Osaka on July 25 at the Edion Arena and two shows will follow on July 26 and July 27 at the Ryogoku Kokugikan National Sumo Arena in Tokyo. Nakamura will appear alongside Cody Rhodes, Drew McIntyre and others.