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RIP Kid Yamamoto


Egg Shen
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This was a bit of a gut punch to wake up too. MMA legend Kid Yamamoto has passed away at 41 after battling cancer.

https://middleeasy.com/mma-news/report-mma-legend-norifumi-kid-yamamoto-has-passed-away-after-battle-with-cancer/

One of Japanese MMA's biggest ever stars, anyone who caught just his late UFC run may not have understood it but Kid was the main man in Japan for a good period of time. Regarded as the best fighter in the world under 155lb during his prime. Kid had the look, persona and fighting style to make him the full package.

As an outsider looking at the Japanese scene it wasn't always easy to follow Kid's career outside of the ring, there was always rumors of Yakuza, there were high profile feuds and a breakdown in the relationship between him and his uncle Enson Inoue. What you could tell though despite stuff getting lost in translation is Kid was a bonafide superstar over there.

Jonathon Snowden sums it up here:

 

RIP Kid.

Edited by Egg Shen
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This is a shocker. Apparently he announced he had cancer in August but I missed it and didn't know. So this has come completely out of the blue. 

His UFC career really didn't do him justice. He was shot and falling to bits by the time he signed with the UFC. But he was genuinely one of the best fighters on the planet pre-about 2008. He had a bit of that Prince Naseem swagger as well in his prime. 

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I can't say that I was a massive fan of Yamamoto's. I tried to watch most things MMA-related in the mid/late 2000s, but for some reason I never really got into the K1 events. I have only seen 2 or 3 K1 Heroes shows that he regularly featured on. He retired in late 2007 and was never the same upon his comeback. Thus I never really formed much of an attachment to him. He was a fighter that passed me by a bit. I didn't even know that Inoue was his uncle to be honest. 

I lurked enough on forums to remember the hype though. GIF images of his jumping-knee KO win over Miyata were often plastered all over message boards. I also remember him and Faber being the MMA purist's dream match of choice around 2007/2008 time. I recall that most fans at the time favoured Kid to beat Faber. 

Regardless, 41 is no age to go. 

 

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33 minutes ago, jimufctna24 said:

He retired in late 2007 and was never the same upon his comeback. 

That was really the end of prime KID. He actually announced he was leaving MMA in late 2006 because he wanted to go back to amateur wrestling and was hoping to compete at the 2008 Olympics. But sometime in 2007 he fucked up his elbow on the mats while going for a takedown and that was that. He returned to MMA and won a couple of fights at the end of 2007 but he started picking up more and more injuries and was never quite the same after that. 

From his MMA debut in 2001 up until the end of 2007, KID went 17-1-1 with 14 finishes and wins over the likes of Rani Yahya, Bibiano Fernandes, Genki Sudo, Caol Uno, Royler Gracie and Jeff Curran. From 2007 to the end of his career he went 1-5-1 and only fought 7 times in 6 years. He fought 3 times in the UFC and never got a win, which is a shame. He nearly stopped Vaughan Lee on one of the Japan UFC's but wound up getting submitted. 

Injuries truly bollocksed him. I mean, people will point to steroids and I'm sure he was using. He was jacked to the gills in his prime. But he declined massively while still in Japan. He was fighting in DREAM when his form really started going south. His decline coincides directly with the injuries piling up. The elbow injury seemed to trigger it all off, forcing a layoff for the bulk of 07. Then he fought twice in late 07, missed all of 2008 with various injuries and didn't come back until May 2009 in DREAM. His UFC run was plagued by injuries as well.

Shame. He came along way too soon really. Prime KID is exactly the kind of fighter the lighter weight classes could do with right about now. 

The Faber fight could've been great but by the time they were really talking about it, I think KID was already pretty fucked. Between 2005-2007, KID vs Faber would've been something special. Anything after that and Faber most likely smokes him. KID was actually in attendance for a WEC event around 08/09ish and was sat cageside with Dana. It was on one of Dana's old video blogs (remember them? Kind of a poor man's pre-cursor to Embedded) with Dana excitedly talking about getting the Faber fight made. But KID ended up staying in Japan. 

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5 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

But sometime in 2007 he fucked up his elbow on the mats while going for a takedown and that was that.

Aye, Meltzer mentioned that in his MMA fighting article on Yamamoto, which I referenced some information from in my post

 

Quote

But while competing in the 60 kilogram (132-pound) weight class, he suffered a dislocated elbow after being thrown by Kenji Inoue ‚ÄĒ who had won a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics ‚ÄĒ in the Olympic qualifying tournament. Yamamoto later needed reconstructive surgery for a torn ACL.

However, it appears that your timeline is more accurate than Meltzer's. 

The Meltzer article makes it out that the December 31st 2007 bout was Yamamoto's initial swansong. In that it was his final bout before preparing himself for the Olympics. However, Jordan Breen reported that the elbow injury occurred in late January of 2007, which would fit with your timeline of Yamamoto announcing his retirement from MMA in late 2006.

He was also scheduled to fight in Dream in June of 2008 before tearing his ACL in training. So if he did retire at all after the 2007 NYE fight, then it was a short-lived retirement. 

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