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Kazuyuki Fujita (藤田 和之, Fujita Kazuyuki, born October 16, 1970) is a Japanese professional wrestler, mixed martial artist and a former amateur wrestler. He has most recently fought in Road FC, but is also known for his work in the PRIDE Fighting Championships, K-1, Rizin Fighting Federation, and World Victory Road.

Kazuyuki Fujita
SHIBUYA LOFT9 CIMG5701.jpg
Fujita speaking in Shibuya, Tokyo, July 2018
Born (1970-10-16) October 16, 1970 (age 48)
Funabashi, Chiba, Japan
Other namesOl' Ironhead
The Last Disciple of Antonio Inoki
The Last Successor of Inokiism
Wild Beast
The Real Beast
NationalityJapanese
Height1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight110 kg (243 lb; 17 st 5 lb)
DivisionHeavyweight
StanceOrthodox
Fighting out ofFunabashi, Chiba, Japan
Teacher(s)Antonio Inoki
Satoru Sayama
Marco Ruas
Years active2000–2009, 2013, 2016-present (MMA)
Mixed martial arts record
Total32
Wins18
By knockout7
By submission9
By decision2
Losses14
By knockout8
By submission2
By decision4
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog

Fujita began his career as a professional wrestler in 1993, joining the New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) dojo, while still competing as an amateur wrestler. Debuting in 1996, Fujita would put his wrestling career on hiatus in early 2000 to train in MMA. Returning the following year with a new shoot based offence, Fujita won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship immediately and went on to hold it two more times before leaving the company in 2005. After a six year hiatus, Fujita returned to pro wrestling in 2011 for Inoki Genome Federation (IGF), and continues to make occasional appearances as a freelancer, most recently for Big Japan Pro Wrestling (BJW) and All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW).

Early lifeEdit

Fujita practiced freestyle wrestling in high school. He participated in the FILA World Championships as a junior in 1988, placing sixth, and in the Espoir division in 1989, placing eleventh. In 1993, Fujita placed fifth at the Asian Championships at the senior level, and in 1993 and 1994, he represented Japan as a senior in the World Cup, a dual meet tournament. He was also a national champion in Japan in Greco-Roman wrestling. He missed making the Japanese Olympic team by 1 point in the Olympic qualifiers.

Professional wrestling careerEdit

New Japan Pro Wrestling (1996–2005)Edit

Early career (1996–2000)Edit

Fujita was approached to join New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) in 1993 whilst he was still competing in amateur wrestling. Fujita agreed to join, but because of his amateur career, his professional debut was delayed three years until 1996. Fujita made his in-ring debut on November 1, 1996, losing to Yuji Nagata.[1] Fujita was trained in the NJPW dojo by Antonio Inoki and Satoru Sayama, who described him as a "monster". Regarded as a promising rookie for his natural athletic ability and strength, Fujita was pushed as a future star during his young lion days. In 1998, he was one of the wrestlers selected to face Riki Choshu in one of his retirement matches, and was also chosen as a training partner for former judoka Naoya Ogawa during his transition into professional wrestling. Despite being praised and touted as a future star, Fujita had doubts about a career in professional wrestling, and didn't feel like he was adapting to it well enough. In 1999, he considered leaving New Japan to join Fighting Network Rings, a former shoot-style promotion that had recently changed itself to a mixed martial arts company. In a bid to keep Fujita in New Japan, Inoki sent him abroad to train for MMA, with the hopes of sending him to Pride Fighting Championship as a representative of Team Inoki. Fujita's run in Pride was successful, and in 2001 he was bought back in to wrestle for New Japan.

Return and championship push (2001–2005)Edit

After over a year away from pro-wrestling, Fujita's return to NJPW was announced in early 2001 for the Strong Style 2001 pay-per-view on April 9, where he was set to face Scott Norton for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Fujita dominated the match with his new shoot-based offence and quickly won the championship in just under 7 minutes.[2][3] Fujita made two successful defences, beating Yuji Nagata and Don Frye.[4][5] Fujita reigned as champion until January 2002, when he was forced to vacate the title due to injury.

Fujita returned to New Japan on July 20, 2002 at Toukon Memorial Day, beating junior heavyweight Masahito Kakihara in 1:09.[6] At Cross Road on August 29, Fujita entered a tournament for the vacated NWF Heavyweight Championship but was defeated by eventual winner Yoshihiro Takayama, giving Fujita his first loss in New Japan since January 2000.[7] On October 14, Fujita challenged Yuji Nagata for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship but came up short.[7]

After spending most of 2003 in Pride, Fujita returned to New Japan once again in October 2003 at Ultimate Crush II, teaming with Minoru Suzuki, Bob Sapp, Yoshihiro Takayama and Shinsuke Nakamura as "Shin Inoki Gun" to defeat Yuji Nagata, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Manabu Nakanishi and Seiji Sakaguchi.[8] In June 2004, he won the vacated IWGP Heavyweight Championship for a second time by defeating Hiroshi Tanahashi. He lost the championship to Kensuke Sasaki on October 9, 2004.

In 2005 he joined the Team JAPAN faction, and on July 18, 2005, he won the championship for the third time against Hiroyoshi Tenzan. In August 2005, Fujita entered the 2005 G1 Climax where he won all his matches in the round robin portion, then defeated Toshiaki Kawada but lost to Masahiro Chono in the finals. He lost the IWGP Championship to Brock Lesnar on October 8, 2005, at Toukon Souzou New Chapter in a three-way match including Masahiro Chono. Lesnar pinned Chono to win the title. In late 2005 he withdrew from a rematch with Lesnar, scheduled for January 4, 2006. Fujita was represented by Inoki Office, an agency originally started by Antonio Inoki, and had not been under a contract with NJPW.

Inoki Genome Federation (2011-present)Edit

Fujita returned to professional wrestling in 2011 with the Inoki Genome Federation (IGF) promotion, where he got in a feud with Naoya Ogawa.

Mixed martial arts careerEdit

In January 2000 Fujita put his professional wrestling career on hiatus and began training for mixed martial arts competition. His trainer was his professional wrestling mentor and mixed martial arts legend, Antonio Inoki, as well as luta livre veteran Marco Ruas.

Pride and K-1Edit

First winsEdit

Kazuyuki entered the PRIDE organization as part of the 2000 Openweight Grand Prix. His first opponent was Fighting Network RINGS alumnus Hans Nijman, who Fujita beat fast by taking him down and submitting him with a wrestling neck crank. After this success, Inoki sent him abroad to compete in American promotion Extreme Shootout, where he KOed Dan Chase and then submitted Will Childs, before returning to PRIDE.

On May 1, Fujita competed at Pride Grand Prix 2000 Finals, where he would score the first big win of his career by defeating Mark Kerr, who at the time was considered to be one of the best heavyweights in MMA. Kerr dominated early in the match, taking the Japanese down and hitting ground and pound through his guard, followed by a series of knee strikes to the head, but Fujita endured shockingly all the punishment and waited for his opportunity. It finally came when Kerr became visibly tired from attacking, moment in which Kazuyuki took him down, taking his back and launching his own series of knee strikes and hammerfists. Kerr turtled up while Fujita scored points over him with unceasant striking, and at the end the referee stopped the match in Fujita's favour. His win over Kerr was considered to be a gigantic upset, and was the first loss in Kerr's career, snapping a 13-fight unbeaten streak.

Fujita's next fight was against former UFC Heavyweight Champion Mark Coleman in the semifinals of the Grand Prix, but the NJPW corner threw the towel started the match to avoid risks for Fujita's health. Despite Fujita was eliminated the tournament, he became a star with the Japanese crowds for his victory over Kerr and the toughness demonstrated in the fight, which gained him the nickname of "Ironhead". As Fujita himself noted, "I am not so great a puncher, not so great a kicker. I don't really have anything all that great, but in today's vale tudo, the strongest is the one that can take a beating."[9]

At Pride 10, Fujita next fought MMA superstar Ken Shamrock. Like in the Kerr fight, Fujita took another incredible beating yet was not knocked out, and Shamrock then began to experience heart attack symptoms and had his corner throw in the towel, resulting in another massive win for Fujita and his career. Color commentator Eddie Bravo proclaimed during Fujita's fight with Shamrock, "that guy can take a baseball bat to the side of the head!".

He followed up his titanic wins over Kerr and Shamrock with a win over dangerous striker Gilbert Yvel at Pride 12. Fujita scored takedowns and dominated positionally Yvel for most of the match, only occasionally trying armlocks, in order to secure a decision win. It was after this match that commentator Stephen Quadros coined the term "lay and pray" to describe the strategy.

In May 2001 at Pride 14, Fujita defeated fellow pro wrestler Yoshihiro Takayama by submission in his first PRIDE main event. Notably, Takayama was similarly able to take a great punishment, enduring knees to the head and punches, but Kazuyuki submitted him via arm triangle choke.

Main competitionEdit

On August 19 at the K-1 Andy Hug 2001 GP Final, Fujita fought K-1 legend and future MMA legend Mirko Cro Cop in Cro Cop's MMA debut. The fight was short and brutal, with Fujita shooting a takedown which Cro Cop tried to avoid with a knee strike to the face. Though Fujita was unfazed and completed the takedown, it opened a cut in his eye, which moved the referee to stop the match for a TKO loss for the Japanese.

Fujita was baffled for the fortuitousness of the bout and requested a rematch, which was conceded for the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye event. This fight would be longer and more intense, with Fujita repeatedly taking the kickboxer down only for the latter to successfully defend from his guard. At the second half of the match, however, Cro Cop started dominating through low kicks and a powerful sprawl, which he used to hold Fujita down while scoring series of unanswered knees to the head. The bout went to the judges, where Mirko seized the unanimous win.

In 2003, after Fujita defeated fellow NJPW pro wrestler Manabu Nakanishi, he launched a challenge to PRIDE champion Fedor Emelianenko for a match in Pride 26. When it came, Kazuyuki shocked the world by stunning Emelianenko with a heavy counter right hand, but despite his best attempts to remain on the offensive Emelianenko recovered and defeated Fujita with a rear naked choke submission. At the end of the year, Fujita defeated American boxer: Imamu Mayfield by submission at Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003.

In May 2004, Fujita made his debut for the K-1 MMA event ROMANEX, taking on then IWGP Heavyweight Champion Bob Sapp. Not fearing Sapp's size and fame, Fujita executed a takedown and went aggressively for Sapp on the ground, repeatedly landing punches and soccer kicks on his head. At this moment, Sapp ceased fighting and only covered himself to defend Fujita's assault. Finally, the referee stopped the match for a TKO victory. Sapp had to vacate his championship after this performance, while Kazuyuki adopted the nickname of "The Real Beast" to capitalize on Sapp's own "The Beast" moniker.

Egyptian Greco-Roman wrestler and Olympic gold medalist Karam Gaber was his next opponent, at the K-1 Premium 2004 Dynamite!! event. The younger and bigger Karam managed to push down and fend off Kazuyuki, but he landed a punch after one minute which knocked out Gaber.

On May 5, 2006, at PRIDE Total Elimination Absolute, Fujita returned to MMA by competing in PRIDE's 2006 Openweight Grand Prix making him the only fighter in PRIDE's history to have competed in both openweight grand prixs. In the first round, Fujita defeated James Thompson by knockout. Typically, Thompson dominated Fujita for most of the fight, until Fujita rallied with a flurry of punches that knocked out him at his weakest point.

At the quarterfinals, Fujita fought PRIDE Middleweight champion and feared Muay Thai striker Wanderlei Silva. The match was wild, with Silva landing soccer kicks and knees while Fujita relentlessly tried to take him down and handle him on the ground. After avoiding armbars and triangle chokes by powering out, Fujita controlled te Brazilian through his guard for a few minutes, but the situation returned to the beginning when the referee stood them up. With three minutes left in the clock, Silva unloaded on Fujita and surprisingly managed to knock him down with hook combos, after which he delivered multiple soccer kicks to the face. Although Fujita was not knocked out, he was unable to stop Silva's offence, so the referee stepped in to give the Brazilian the win.

After defeating freestyle champion Eldar Kurtanidze by submission due to strikes, Fujita was pitted against Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Jeff Monson. The Japanese wrestler fended off takedowns and choke attempts, but Monson was able to lock one of them to make Kazuyuki tap out. The fight was historic as it would be the final fight in PRIDE's history. Fujita would lose by submission.

World Victory RoadEdit

After PRIDE was sold to Zuffa, Fujita joined the new promotion: World Victory Road. He debuted on March 5, 2008, at Sengoku 1 where he defeated Peter Graham by submission. Fujita next fight was against Travis Wiuff at Sengoku 3 where he lost by TKO.

On August 2, 2009, Fujita was defeated by Blagoi Ivanov at World Victory Road's ninth event, Sengoku 9.

On December 31, 2009, at Dynamite!! 2009, Fujita took on Alistair Overeem and was knocked out via knee to the head in the first round. This was the first time Fujita has been knocked unconscious.

After a 4-year hiatus from the sport, Fujita returned to face Satoshi Ishii on December 31, 2013, at Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2013 for the IGF Championship. Fujita lost the bout via unanimous decision, marking his fourth loss in a row.[10]

Championships and accomplishmentsEdit

Mixed Martial Arts

Pro Wrestling

Mixed martial arts recordEdit

Professional record breakdown
32 matches 18 wins 14 losses
By knockout 7 8
By submission 9 2
By decision 2 4
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Win 18–14 Choi Mu-Bae TKO (punches) Road FC 050 November 3, 2018 1 1:55 Daejeon, South Korea
Win 17–14 Justin Morton Submission (north south choke) Road FC 049 August 18, 2018 2 1:19 Seoul, South Korea
Win 16–14 Handong Kong TKO (retirement) Road FC 047 May 12, 2018 2 4:46 Beijing, China Road FC 2018 Openweight Grand Prix Alternate
Loss 15–14 Sang Soo Lee TKO (punches) HEAT 41 December 23, 2017 1 3:59 Nagoya, Japan
Loss 15–13 Aorigele TKO (punches) Road FC 044 November 11, 2017 1 1:59 Shijiazhuang, China
Loss 15–12 Baruto Kaito Decision (unanimous) Rizin World Grand-Prix 2016: 1st Round September 25, 2016 2 5:00 Saitama, Japan Openweight Grand-Prix 1st Round
Loss 15–11 Jiri Prochazka KO (punch) Rizin FF 1 April 17, 2016 1 3:33 Nagoya, Japan
Loss 15–10 Satoshi Ishii Decision (unanimous) Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2013 December 31, 2013 3 5:00 Tokyo, Japan For the IGF Championship
Loss 15–9 Alistair Overeem KO (knee) Dynamite!! The Power of Courage 2009 December 31, 2009 1 1:15 Saitama, Japan
Loss 15–8 Blagoi Ivanov Decision (split) World Victory Road Presents: Sengoku 9 August 2, 2009 3 5:00 Saitama, Japan
Loss 15–7 Travis Wiuff TKO (punches) World Victory Road Presents: Sengoku 3 June 8, 2008 1 1:24 Saitama, Japan
Win 15–6 Peter Graham Submission (north-south choke) World Victory Road Presents: Sengoku First Battle March 5, 2008 1 1:23 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 14–6 Jeff Monson Submission (rear-naked choke) PRIDE 34 April 8, 2007 1 6:37 Saitama, Japan
Win 14–5 Eldar Kurtanidze Submission (punches) Pride FC - Shockwave 2006 December 31, 2006 1 2:09 Saitama, Japan
Loss 13–5 Wanderlei Silva TKO (punches and soccer kicks) Pride FC - Critical Countdown Absolute July 1, 2006 1 9:21 Saitama, Japan PRIDE 2006 Openweight Grand Prix Quarterfinal
Win 13–4 James Thompson KO (punch) Pride FC - Total Elimination Absolute May 5, 2006 1 8:25 Osaka, Japan PRIDE 2006 Openweight Grand Prix 1st Round
Win 12–4 Karam Gaber KO (punch) K-1 - Premium 2004 Dynamite!! December 31, 2004 1 1:07 Osaka, Japan
Win 11–4 Bob Sapp Submission (soccer kicks) K-1 MMA ROMANEX May 22, 2004 1 2:15 Saitama, Japan
Win 10–4 Imamu Mayfield Technical Submission (arm-triangle choke) Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003 December 31, 2003 2 2:15 Kobe, Japan
Loss 9–4 Fedor Emelianenko Submission (rear-naked choke) PRIDE 26 June 8, 2003 1 4:17 Yokohama, Japan
Win 9–3 Manabu Nakanishi TKO (punches) NJPW - Ultimate Crush May 2, 2003 3 1:09 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 8–3 Mirko Cro Cop Decision (unanimous) Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2002 December 31, 2002 3 5:00 Saitama, Japan
Win 8–2 Tadao Yasuda Submission (arm-triangle choke) UFO - Legend August 8, 2002 1 2:46 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 7–2 Mirko Cro Cop TKO (doctor stoppage) K-1 Andy Memorial 2001 Japan GP Final August 19, 2001 1 0:39 Saitama, Japan
Win 7–1 Yoshihiro Takayama Submission (arm-triangle choke) Pride 14 - Clash of the Titans May 27, 2001 2 3:10 Yokohama, Japan
Win 6–1 Gilbert Yvel Decision (unanimous) Pride 12 - Cold Fury December 9, 2000 2 10:00 Saitama, Japan
Win 5–1 Ken Shamrock TKO (corner stoppage) Pride 10 - Return of the Warriors August 27, 2000 1 6:46 Tokorozawa, Saitama, Japan
Loss 4–1 Mark Coleman TKO (corner stoppage) PRIDE Grand Prix 2000 Finals May 1, 2000 1 0:02 Tokyo, Japan PRIDE 2000 Openweight Grand Prix Semifinals
Win 4–0 Mark Kerr Decision (unanimous) PRIDE Grand Prix 2000 Finals May 1, 2000 1 15:00 Tokyo, Japan PRIDE 2000 Openweight Grand Prix Quarterfinals
Win 3–0 Will Childs Submission (rear-naked choke) Extreme Shootout - The Underground April 1, 2000 N/A N/A Killeen, Texas, United States Extreme Shootout - The Underground Tournament Finals
Win 2–0 Dan Chase KO (punch) Extreme Shootout - The Underground April 1, 2000 N/A N/A Killeen, Texas, United States Extreme Shootout - The Underground Tournament Semifinals
Win 1–0 Hans Nijman Submission (neck crank) PRIDE Grand Prix 2000 Opening Round January 30, 2000 1 2:48 Tokyo, Japan PRIDE 2000 Openweight Grand Prix 1st Round

FilmographyEdit

Year Title Role
2001 Di Gi Charat - A Trip to the Planet Dejiko's father

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "NJPW Super Grade Tag League VI - Tag 19". Cagematch.
  2. ^ "Results 2001". Strong Style Spirit.
  3. ^ https://www.cagematch.net/?id=1&nr=42378
  4. ^ https://www.cagematch.net/?id=1&nr=43356
  5. ^ https://www.cagematch.net/?id=1&nr=43165
  6. ^ https://www.cagematch.net/?id=1&nr=42100
  7. ^ a b "Results 2002". Strong Style Spirit.
  8. ^ https://www.cagematch.net/?id=1&nr=47393
  9. ^ "Pride and Glory". Sherdog.
  10. ^ "SATOSHI ISHII, SHINYA AOKI CLAIM WINS AT INOKI BOM-BA-YE 2013". sherdog.com. December 31, 2013.
  11. ^ Sherdog.com. "Sherdog.com Preview: PRIDE Open-Weight Grand Prix - Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Wanderlei Silva". Sherdog. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  12. ^ "Fight Matrix - MMA Awards". fightmatrix.com.
  13. ^ 藤田、王者レバンナ破った/IGF. Nikkan Sports (in Japanese). 2012-07-14. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
  14. ^ "2005 New Japan Awards". Strong Style Spirit. Retrieved 2011-04-28.
  15. ^ Nikkan Sports Awards - 2000. wrestlingscout. February 14, 2016. Invalid |script-title=: missing prefix (help)
  16. ^ "The Great Hisa's Puroresu Dojo : Puroresu Awards: 2000s". Puroresu Dojo.
  17. ^ "The Great Hisa's Puroresu Dojo: Puroresu Awards: 1990s". Puroresu Dojo.

External linksEdit