Norifumi Yamamoto (山本 徳郁, Yamamoto Norifumi, March 15, 1977 – September 18, 2018) was a Japanese mixed martial artist and kickboxer who competed in the bantamweight division of the UFC. He quickly gained popularity in the Shooto organization due to his aggressive, well-rounded style and controversial persona. He moved on to K-1 Hero's, where he became the K-1 Hero's 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix Tournament Champion in December, 2005 after defeating Genki Sudo via a controversial TKO due to punches.
|Born||March 15, 1977|
|Died||September 18, 2018 (aged 41)|
|Other names||Kid/son of god|
|Height||5 ft 4 in (1.63 m)|
|Weight||135 lb (61 kg; 9 st 9 lb)|
|Division||Bantamweight (2010–2018) |
|Reach||66 in (168 cm)|
|Style||Kickboxing, Wrestling, Shootfighting|
|Fighting out of||Tokyo, Japan|
Purebred Tokyo Killer Bee
|Years active||2001–2018 (MMA)|
|Mixed martial arts record|
|Spouse||Malia (m. 2004 div. 2009)|
|Notable school(s)||Marcos de Niza High School|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
Though by most measures he was a natural bantamweight, many of Yamamoto's most significant bouts have been in the lightweight division as it was the lightest division in Hero's. More recently, he competed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship in the bantamweight division, although he did not perform well there, going winless in his first four fights.
Yamamoto came from a wrestling family. His father Ikuei Yamamoto represented Japan at the 1972 Olympic games in Munich and his sisters Miyuu Yamamoto and Seiko both won world championships in freestyle wrestling. Kid received his education in the United States and wrestled at Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, Arizona, capturing three state championships (with a third-place finish as a freshman). During that time he lived and received training from Townsend and Tricia Saunders. He also trained briefly under Choi Mu Bae. At the age of 21, Yamamoto made a transition from wrestling to mixed martial arts despite his father's opinion that MMA isn't a real sport. His first trainer in the sport was Enson Inoue, fiancé of Yamamoto's sister at the time.
Mixed martial arts careerEdit
Yamamoto made his professional mixed martial arts debut on March 2, 2001 against Masato Shiozawa at Shooto - To The Top 2, where he won by unanimous decision. He would go on to win his next two fights, both by TKO in the first round.
During this time Yamamoto faced future Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Josh Thomson in Honolulu, Hawaii at Shogun 1. Yamamoto dominated Thomson with takedowns and strikes but caught an accidental kick to the groin three minutes into round two, causing the bout to be ruled a no contest.
On May 5, 2002, Yamamoto suffered his first loss by TKO to Stephen Palling. As Yamamoto shot in for a double-leg takedown, Palling countered with a knee, opening a huge cut to Yamamoto's face. Though Yamamoto succeeded in slamming Palling, blood began pouring out of the cut and the referee stopped the fight. The doctors determined that Yamamoto was unable to continue and Palling was declared the winner.
Yamamoto made his K-1 Hero's debut on April 7, 2004 at the K-1 World MAX 2004 World Tournament Open, where he choked out Tony Valente only 58 seconds into the fight. Over the next year, Yamamoto's popularity grew as he went on to defeat Kazuya Yasuhiro, Jadamba Narantungalag and Ian James Schaffa in exciting fashion.
On May 3, 2006 Yamamoto made mixed martial arts history when he knocked out Kazuyuki Miyata four seconds into the fight with a flying knee moments after the bell sounded. It was the fastest ever knockout in a major MMA promotion.
Olympic freestyle wrestlingEdit
In early 2007, Yamamoto announced an indefinite leave of absence from MMA to go back to his roots and train for and compete in freestyle wrestling for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He had hoped to win the Olympic Gold medal for freestyle wrestling ever since he was a child, as his father Ikuei Yamamoto represented Japan in the 1972 Olympic games in Munich. In qualifying, Yamamoto began with an impressive win over Japanese Self Defense Forces member Akihiro Tsuchida. Yamamoto looked nimble and explosive against Tsuchida, who had taken third in the 132-pound freestyle class at the 2006 Emperor's Cup. However disaster struck in the semifinals against 2004 Athens Bronze Medalist Kenji Inoue, when in the first move of the match, an arm-whip takedown by Inoue, Yamamoto dislocated his right elbow, and was consequently prone for the easy pinfall. With this injury, Yamamoto had no choice but to leave his hopes of competing in the Olympic Games and return to mixed martial arts.
Return to Hero'sEdit
Yamamoto's return to MMA came on September 17, 2007 against future Dream Featherweight Champion Bibiano Fernandes at K-1 Hero's 10. Yamamoto won the fight by unanimous decision. At K-1 Hero's Dynamite!! 2007 on December 31 Yamamoto faced WEC veteran Rani Yahya at Bantamweight . Yamamoto won in the second round via TKO due to soccer and ground kicks.
In February 2008, Fighting and Entertainment Group launched Dream, a new MMA promotion intended to be the successor to Hero's. Norifumi Yamamoto was one of the many former Pride and Hero's fighters that was announced to be competing in the new promotion.. He was supposed to make his Dream debut at Dream 5 against Joseph Benavidez, but the bout was abruptly called off three days before the event to a knee injury suffered by Yamamoto.
Yamamoto next announced his participation in the Dream Featherweight Grand Prix, which began at Dream.7. Due to an injury, he did not compete until the second round where, at Dream.9 on May 26, he faced future Bellator Champion Joe Warren. Despite having a significant experience advantage against the newcomer Warren, Yamamoto lost by split decision. This was regarded as a huge upset at the time considering Warren (2-0 MMA record at the time) ended Yamamoto's 14-fight winning streak.
Yamamoto was expected to make his Strikeforce debut against Team Quest fighter Federico Lopez at Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery, but was later pulled out by DREAM and fought Lopez at Dream 14 instead. Yamamoto defeated Lopez via TKO (Punches), claiming his first victory after two consecutive upset losses. In preparation for the fight Yamamoto decided to "reinvent" himself, moving to Okinawa to train under former WBA Light Welterweight Champion Akinobu Hiranaka.
Ultimate Fighting ChampionshipEdit
He was then expected to face Chris Cariaso on May 28, 2011 at UFC 130. However, Yamamoto was forced out of the bout with an injury and replaced by Michael McDonald. Another bout was scheduled with Damacio Page at UFC 135 on September 24, 2011. It too was scrapped on September 1 after both fighters sustained injuries in training.
Yamamoto then fought Darren Uyenoyama on November 12, 2011 at UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos. Despite hurting Uyenoyama several times, including a knockdown in the second round, Yamamoto lost via unanimous decision after Uyenoyama controlled him on the ground for the majority of the fight.
Yamamoto's next bout was against Vaughan Lee on February 26, 2012 at UFC 144. Yamamoto rocked Lee early in the opening round with a right hand, but minutes later was wobbled by a right hook-uppercut combination from the Brit. He immediately took Lee down, but got caught in a triangle choke; Lee then switched to an armbar, handing Yamamoto his first ever loss by submission.
Yamamoto returned from a three-year hiatus to face Roman Salazar on February 28, 2015 at UFC 184. The bout was declared a no contest after an accidental eye poke by Yamamoto rendered Salazar unable to continue midway through the second round.
Yamamoto was expected to face Matt Hobar on September 27, 2015 at UFC Fight Night 75. However, the bout was scrapped as both fighters suffered injuries during the week leading up to the event.
Yamamoto was scheduled to face Chris Beal on June 18, 2016 at UFC Fight Night 89. However, Yamamoto was scratched from the bout on May 26 for an undisclosed injury. He was replaced by Joe Soto.
Yamamoto faced Masato at K-1 Premium 2004 Dynamite!! in a highly anticipated match up under K-1 Rules, and lost via decision.  The fight did a 31.6 rating and was watched by more than 34 million viewers. 
On July 13, 2009, Yamamoto was defeated by Korean kickboxer Jae Hee Cheon via KO at K-1 World MAX 2009 World Championship Tournament Final 8. He is now 1-3 under K-1 Rules.
On August 26, 2018, Yamamoto wrote on his Instagram that he had been diagnosed with cancer. On September 18, 2018, Yamamoto died from stomach cancer. The type of cancer was revealed by Rizin founder Nobuyuki Sakakibara, with permission from Yamamoto's father. In the same interview, Sakakibara revealed that the cancer was diagnosed as early as 2016, but Yamamoto hid it from the public. In the beginning of 2018, Yamamoto's condition worsened to a point of where his father flew him to Guam to receive treatment for his terminal cancer.
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
Mixed martial artsEdit
- K-1 Hero's
- Hero's 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix Tournament Winner
- Fastest Recorded Knockout (0:04)
- All Japan Amateur Shooto Tournament Winner
- 2005 Featherweight Fighter of the Year
- Japan Wrestling Federation
- All-Japan Emperor's Cup Senior Freestyle National Championship 4th Place (2007)
- All-Japan Emperor's Cup Senior Freestyle National Championship Runner-up (1999)
- Arizona Interscholastic Association
Mixed martial arts recordEdit
|Professional record breakdown|
|26 matches||18 wins||6 losses|
|NC||18–6 (2)||Roman Salazar||No Contest (accidental eye poke)||UFC 184||February 28, 2015||2||2:37||Los Angeles, California, United States||Salazar was rendered unable to continue.|
|Loss||18–6 (1)||Vaughan Lee||Submission (armbar)||UFC 144||February 26, 2012||1||4:29||Saitama, Japan|
|Loss||18–5 (1)||Darren Uyenoyama||Decision (unanimous)||UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos||November 12, 2011||3||5:00||Anaheim, California, United States|
|Loss||18–4 (1)||Demetrious Johnson||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 126||February 5, 2011||3||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Win||18–3 (1)||Federico Lopez||KO (punches)||Dream 14||May 29, 2010||1||1:41||Saitama, Japan||Return to Bantamweight.|
|Loss||17–3 (1)||Masanori Kanehara||Decision (unanimous)||Dynamite!! The Power of Courage 2009||December 31, 2009||3||5:00||Saitama, Japan|
|Loss||17–2 (1)||Joe Warren||Decision (split)||Dream 9||May 26, 2009||2||5:00||Yokohama, Japan||Dream Featherweight Grand Prix Quarterfinal|
|Win||17–1 (1)||Rani Yahya||TKO (punches and soccer kicks)||K-1 Premium 2007 Dynamite!!||December 31, 2007||2||3:11||Osaka, Japan||Bantamweight bout.|
|Win||16–1 (1)||Bibiano Fernandes||Decision (unanimous)||Hero's 10||September 17, 2007||3||5:00||Yokohama, Japan||Bantamweight bout.|
|Win||15–1 (1)||István Majoros||TKO (punches)||K-1 PREMIUM 2006 Dynamite!!||December 31, 2006||1||3:46||Osaka, Japan||Featherweight bout.|
|Win||14–1 (1)||Kazuyuki Miyata||KO (flying knee)||Hero's 5||May 3, 2006||1||0:04||Tokyo, Japan||Fastest known knockout in a major MMA promotion (tied)|
|Win||13–1 (1)||Genki Sudo||TKO (punches)||Hero's 4||December 31, 2005||1||4:39||Osaka, Japan||Hero's 2005 Lightweight Grand Prix final|
|Win||12–1 (1)||Caol Uno||TKO (doctor stoppage)||Hero's 3||September 7, 2005||2||4:04||Tokyo, Japan||Hero's 2005 Lightweight Grand Prix semifinal|
|Win||11–1 (1)||Royler Gracie||KO (punch)||Hero's 3||September 7, 2005||2||0:38||Tokyo, Japan||Hero's 2005 Lightweight Grand Prix quarterfinal|
|Win||10–1 (1)||Ian James Schaffa||TKO (punches)||Hero's 2||July 6, 2005||3||1:23||Tokyo, Japan||Lightweight bout.|
|Win||9–1 (1)||Jadamba Narantungalag||KO (punches)||K-1 World MAX 2004 Champions' Challenge||October 13, 2004||1||1:55||Tokyo, Japan||Lightweight bout.|
|Win||8–1 (1)||Kazuya Yasuhiro||Submission (armbar)||K-1 World MAX 2004 World Tournament Final||July 7, 2004||2||2:40||Tokyo, Japan||Lightweight bout.|
|Win||7–1 (1)||Tony Valente||Submission (rear-naked choke)||K-1 World MAX 2004 World Tournament Open||April 7, 2004||1||0:58||Tokyo, Japan||Lightweight bout.|
|Win||6–1 (1)||Caleb Mitchell||KO (punch)||Shooto - 9/5 in Korakuen Hall||September 5, 2003||1||0:40||Tokyo, Japan||Featherweight bout.|
|Win||5–1 (1)||Jeff Curran||Decision (unanimous)||SuperBrawl 29||May 9, 2003||3||5:00||Honolulu, Hawaii, United States||Featherweight bout.|
|Win||4–1 (1)||Tetsuo Katsuta||TKO (punches)||Shooto: Treasure Hunt 10||September 16, 2002||1||2:45||Yokohama, Japan||Featherweight bout.|
|Loss||3–1 (1)||Stephen Palling||TKO (doctor stoppage)||Shooto: Treasure Hunt 6||May 5, 2002||1||0:30||Tokyo, Japan||Featherweight bout.|
|NC||3–0 (1)||Josh Thomson||No Contest (groin kick)||Shogun 1||December 15, 2001||2||2:00||Honolulu, Hawaii, United States|
|Win||3–0||Hideki Kadowaki||TKO (punches)||Shooto - To The Top 8||September 2, 2001||1||4:02||Tokyo, Japan||Featherweight bout.|
|Win||2–0||Masashi Kameda||KO (punch)||Shooto: To The Top 6||July 6, 2001||1||4:17||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||1–0||Masato Shiozawa||Decision (unanimous)||Shooto: To The Top 2||March 2, 2001||2||5:00||Tokyo, Japan|
|Professional record breakdown|
|4 matches||1 win||3 losses|
|December 31, 2015||Ex.||Masato||Kyokugen||Exhibition||3||3:00||Japan|
|July 13, 2009||Loss||Jae hee Cheon||K-1 World MAX 2009 World Championship Tournament Final 8||KO (Left Hook)||1||1:20||Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, Japan|
|May 4, 2005||Loss||Mike Zambidis||K-1 World Max 2005 Opening||KO (Right Hook)||3||2:09||Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo, Japan|
|December 31, 2004||Loss||Masato||K-1 Premium Dynamite 2004||Decision (Majority)||3||5:00||Kyocera Dome, Osaka, Japan|
|February 24, 2004||Win||Takehiro Murahama||K-1 World MAX 2004 Japan Tournament||TKO (Referee Stoppage)||2||2:38||Yoyogi National Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan|
Submission grappling recordEdit
- "Yahoo!". kr.news.yahoo.com.
- Dave Meltzer (September 18, 2018). "Japanese legend Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto dies at age 41". mmafighting.com.
- "Fighters Profile". Archived from the original on 2008-06-25.
- on YouTube
- Jordan Breen. ""KID" Yamamoto Injured in Olympic Wrestling Bid". Sherdog.
- Manojlovic, Stefan (2009-01-25). "DREAM 7 to feature Featherweight Grand Prix; Yamamoto offered first round bye". MMAmania.com. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
- ""KID" Yamamoto No Longer Fighting Just on Intuition".
- "WARREN UPSETS 'KID' AT DREAM 9".
- ""Kid" Yamamoto off Strikeforce St. Louis card, may fight at DREAM.14". mmajunkie.com. 2010-04-29. Archived from the original on 2010-05-02.
- "'Kid' Yamamoto finally regains his KO mojo at Dream 14 against Lopez". USA Today. 2010-05-29.
- ""Kid" Yamamoto return". Yahoo. 2010-05-04.[permanent dead link]
- "Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto Signs With UFC; Debuts Against Demetrious Johnson In February". mmaweekly.com. 2010-12-10.
- "UFC 130: Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto vs Chris Cariaso booked for May 28". mmamania.com. 2011-03-12.
- "McDonald replaces injured "Kid" Yamamoto, meets Cariaso at UFC 130". mmajunkie.com. 2011-04-28. Archived from the original on 2013-01-04.
- "Bantamweights "Kid" Yamamoto vs. Damacio Page targeted for UFC 135". mmajunkie.com. June 13, 2011. Archived from the original on July 10, 2012.
- "Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto vs. Damacio Page scratched from UFC 135 prelims". mmajunkie.com. September 1, 2011. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012.
- "Yamamoto vs. Uyenoyama official for UFC on FOX 1". September 6, 2011. Archived from the original on October 9, 2012.
- "Vaughan Lee Scores Bout With Yamamoto In Japan". yourmma.tv.com. November 28, 2011.
- Staff (June 20, 2013). "Ivan Menjivar vs. Norifumi Yamamoto targeted for UFC 165 in Toronto". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
- Cameron Gidari (2013-09-02). "Wilson Reis Replaces "Kid" Yamamoto, Faces Ivan Menjivar at UFC 165". MMAdiehards.com. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
- Nathan McCarter (2014-11-26). "KID Yamamoto Returns at UFC 184 Against Roman Salazar". bleacherreport.com. Retrieved 2014-11-26.
- Matt Erickson (2015-02-28). "UFC 184 results, photos: Accidental eye poke shuts down Roman Salazar vs. 'Kid' Yamamoto". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2015-02-28.
- Akihito Tatematsu (2015-07-02). "UFC Japan adds KID Yamamoto, Kiichi Strasser, and Kyoji Horiguchi". mma-in-asia.com. Archived from the original on 2015-07-02. Retrieved 2015-07-02.
- Damon Martin (2015-09-23). "'Kid' Yamamoto vs. Matt Hobar scrapped for UFC Fight Night in Japan". foxnews.com. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
- Staff (2016-04-22). "Chris Beal returns to bantamweight, meets Kid Yamamoto at UFC Fight Night 89 in Ottawa". themmareport.com. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
- Staff (2016-05-26). "'Kid' Yamamoto scratched from UFC Fight Night 89, Joe Soto now meets Chris Beal". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2016-05-26.
- Fraser Coffeen. "Report: Kid Yamamoto to face Masato in kickboxing fight on New Years Eve". Bloody Elbow.
- Dave Melzer. "Japanese legend Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto dies at age 41". MMA Fighting.
- "Kid Yamamoto Instagram". Instagram. 2018-08-26. Archived from the original on 2021-12-24. Retrieved 2018-09-18.
- "Former UFC fighter Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto dead at 41". The Independent. 18 September 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
- "山本ＫＩＤ徳郁さんの「胃がんが見つかったのは２年以上前」 ＲＩＺＩＮ実行委員長が告白" (in Japanese). yahoo.co.jp. September 18, 2018. Archived from the original on September 19, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- "MMAFighting.com 2006 Year End Awards".