Norifumi Yamamoto

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.

Norifumi Yamamoto
Born(1977-03-15)March 15, 1977
Kawasaki, Japan
DiedSeptember 18, 2018(2018-09-18) (aged 41)
Dededo, Guam
Other namesKid/son of god
Height5 ft 4 in (1.63 m)
Weight135 lb (61 kg; 9 st 9 lb)
DivisionBantamweight (2010–2018)
Featherweight (2002–2009)
Lightweight (2001)
Reach66 in (168 cm)
StyleKickboxing, Wrestling, Shootfighting
Fighting out ofTokyo, Japan
TeamKrazy Bee
Purebred Tokyo Killer Bee
Purebred Omiya
Years active2001–2018 (MMA)
Kickboxing record
By knockout1
By knockout2
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout13
By submission2
By decision3
By knockout1
By submission1
By decision4
No contests2
Other information
SpouseMalia (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.[1] 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.[2]

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.

Kid went on to win his next three fights over Tetsuo Katsuta, Jeff Curran and Caleb Mitchell.


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.

Yamamoto would then write his name into K-1 Hero's history by defeating three highly regarded fighters—Royler Gracie, Caol Uno and Genki Sudo—to win the 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix.[3]

Four-second knockoutEdit

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.[4]

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.[5]

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 [1]. 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.[2]. 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.[6][7] 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.[8]

Yamamoto lost to SRC Featherweight Champion Masanori Kanehara via unanimous decision at Dynamite!! 2009 on New Year's Eve.

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.[9] Yamamoto defeated Lopez via TKO (Punches), claiming his first victory after two consecutive upset losses.[10] In preparation for the fight Yamamoto decided to "reinvent" himself, moving to Okinawa to train under former WBA Light Welterweight Champion Akinobu Hiranaka.[11]

Ultimate Fighting ChampionshipEdit

Yamamoto made his UFC debut against future UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson at UFC 126. Unable to fend off Johnson's constant takedowns, he lost the fight via unanimous decision.[12]

He was then expected to face Chris Cariaso on May 28, 2011 at UFC 130.[13] However, Yamamoto was forced out of the bout with an injury and replaced by Michael McDonald.[14] Another bout was scheduled with Damacio Page at UFC 135 on September 24, 2011.[15] It too was scrapped on September 1 after both fighters sustained injuries in training.[16]

Yamamoto then fought Darren Uyenoyama on November 12, 2011 at UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos.[17] 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.[18] 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 was expected to face Ivan Menjivar on September 21, 2013 at UFC 165.[19] However, Yamamoto was removed from the bout and was replaced by Wilson Reis.[20]

Yamamoto returned from a three-year hiatus to face Roman Salazar on February 28, 2015 at UFC 184.[21] The bout was declared a no contest after an accidental eye poke by Yamamoto rendered Salazar unable to continue midway through the second round.[22]

Yamamoto was expected to face Matt Hobar on September 27, 2015 at UFC Fight Night 75.[23] However, the bout was scrapped as both fighters suffered injuries during the week leading up to the event.[24]

Yamamoto was scheduled to face Chris Beal on June 18, 2016 at UFC Fight Night 89.[25] However, Yamamoto was scratched from the bout on May 26 for an undisclosed injury. He was replaced by Joe Soto.[26]

Kickboxing careerEdit

Yamamoto faced Masato at K-1 Premium 2004 Dynamite!! in a highly anticipated match up under K-1 Rules, and lost via decision. [27] The fight did a 31.6 rating and was watched by more than 34 million viewers. [28]

Kid Yamamoto lost to Amateur Kickboxer Percy Ramos, at the Fighter of the Year tournament, 2006 by TKO into the fourth round.

Yamamoto then faced Mike Zambidis at the K-1 World Max 2005 Tournament, he would also lose this bout by KO early into the third round.

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.

Personal lifeEdit

Yamamoto was married to Japanese female fashion model MALIA (マリア,新保真里有), with whom he had two sons and a daughter. They divorced in 2009.[7]


On August 26, 2018, Yamamoto wrote on his Instagram that he had been diagnosed with cancer.[29] On September 18, 2018, Yamamoto died from stomach cancer.[30] 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.[31]

Championships and accomplishmentsEdit

Mixed martial artsEdit

Amateur wrestlingEdit

  • 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
    • AIA High School State Championship (1995, 1996, 1997)
    • AIA High School State Championship 3rd Place (1994)
    • Scholastic Career Record: 112-4 (1993-1997)

Mixed martial arts recordEdit

Professional record breakdown
26 matches 18 wins 6 losses
By knockout 13 1
By submission 2 1
By decision 3 4
No contests 2
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
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

Kickboxing recordEdit

Professional record breakdown
4 matches 1 win 3 losses
By knockout 1 2
By decision 0 1
Date Result Opponent Event Method Round Time Location
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

Result Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Notes
Loss   Baret Yoshida TKO (corner stoppage) THE CONTENDERS Millennium-1 2001
Win   Jiro Wakabayashi Decision (unanimous) THE CONTENDERS Millennium-1 2001
Win   Koji Komuro Decision (unanimous) THE CONTENDERS Millennium-1 2001

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Yahoo!".
  2. ^ Dave Meltzer (September 18, 2018). "Japanese legend Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto dies at age 41".
  3. ^ "Fighters Profile". Archived from the original on 2008-06-25.
  4. ^ Norifumi"KID"Yamamoto 山本 徳郁 VS Kazuyuki Miyata 宮田 和幸 on YouTube
  5. ^ Jordan Breen. ""KID" Yamamoto Injured in Olympic Wrestling Bid". Sherdog.
  6. ^ Manojlovic, Stefan (2009-01-25). "DREAM 7 to feature Featherweight Grand Prix; Yamamoto offered first round bye". Retrieved 2009-01-25.
  7. ^ a b ""KID" Yamamoto No Longer Fighting Just on Intuition".
  9. ^ ""Kid" Yamamoto off Strikeforce St. Louis card, may fight at DREAM.14". 2010-04-29. Archived from the original on 2010-05-02.
  10. ^ "'Kid' Yamamoto finally regains his KO mojo at Dream 14 against Lopez". USA Today. 2010-05-29.
  11. ^ ""Kid" Yamamoto return". Yahoo. 2010-05-04.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto Signs With UFC; Debuts Against Demetrious Johnson In February". 2010-12-10.
  13. ^ "UFC 130: Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto vs Chris Cariaso booked for May 28". 2011-03-12.
  14. ^ "McDonald replaces injured "Kid" Yamamoto, meets Cariaso at UFC 130". 2011-04-28. Archived from the original on 2013-01-04.
  15. ^ "Bantamweights "Kid" Yamamoto vs. Damacio Page targeted for UFC 135". June 13, 2011. Archived from the original on July 10, 2012.
  16. ^ "Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto vs. Damacio Page scratched from UFC 135 prelims". September 1, 2011. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012.
  17. ^ "Yamamoto vs. Uyenoyama official for UFC on FOX 1". September 6, 2011. Archived from the original on October 9, 2012.
  18. ^ "Vaughan Lee Scores Bout With Yamamoto In Japan". November 28, 2011.
  19. ^ Staff (June 20, 2013). "Ivan Menjivar vs. Norifumi Yamamoto targeted for UFC 165 in Toronto". Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  20. ^ Cameron Gidari (2013-09-02). "Wilson Reis Replaces "Kid" Yamamoto, Faces Ivan Menjivar at UFC 165". Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  21. ^ Nathan McCarter (2014-11-26). "KID Yamamoto Returns at UFC 184 Against Roman Salazar". Retrieved 2014-11-26.
  22. ^ Matt Erickson (2015-02-28). "UFC 184 results, photos: Accidental eye poke shuts down Roman Salazar vs. 'Kid' Yamamoto". Retrieved 2015-02-28.
  23. ^ Akihito Tatematsu (2015-07-02). "UFC Japan adds KID Yamamoto, Kiichi Strasser, and Kyoji Horiguchi". Archived from the original on 2015-07-02. Retrieved 2015-07-02.
  24. ^ Damon Martin (2015-09-23). "'Kid' Yamamoto vs. Matt Hobar scrapped for UFC Fight Night in Japan". Retrieved 2015-09-23.
  25. ^ Staff (2016-04-22). "Chris Beal returns to bantamweight, meets Kid Yamamoto at UFC Fight Night 89 in Ottawa". Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  26. ^ Staff (2016-05-26). "'Kid' Yamamoto scratched from UFC Fight Night 89, Joe Soto now meets Chris Beal". Retrieved 2016-05-26.
  27. ^ Fraser Coffeen. "Report: Kid Yamamoto to face Masato in kickboxing fight on New Years Eve". Bloody Elbow.
  28. ^ Dave Melzer. "Japanese legend Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto dies at age 41". MMA Fighting.
  29. ^ "Kid Yamamoto Instagram". Instagram. 2018-08-26. Archived from the original on 2021-12-24. Retrieved 2018-09-18.
  30. ^ "Former UFC fighter Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto dead at 41". The Independent. 18 September 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  31. ^ "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). September 18, 2018. Archived from the original on September 19, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  32. ^ " 2006 Year End Awards".

External linksEdit