Monday, May 25, 2009

The Comeback Kid

Lost amid the sideshow of Jose Canseco's Mixed Martial Arts debut at tomorrow night's DREAM 9 is the return of one of the best Pound-for-Pound fighters on the planet, Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto.

While he's certainly not a household name here in North America, in Japan he is a legend, both for his impressive march to the 2005 K-1 HERO Middleweight Grand Prix title and his four second knockout of Kazuyuki Miyata. Yes, your read that correctly. Four seconds.

Unfortunately, injuries have kept Kid Yamamoto out of the ring since he stopped Rani Yahya on New Year's Eve 2007, a period of 17 months. Normally, there is no way that I would expect much from someone who hasn't fought in that long, but this is "Kid" Yamamoto we're talking about.

The same fighter who has rattled of 14 consecutive wins and has fought the likes of Josh Thomson, Jeff Curran, Royler Gracie and Caol Uno. What makes Yamamoto so dangerous is that his always deadly striking is backed by an equally impressive wrestling pedigree, as his father was an Olympic competitor and both of his sisters are freestyle world champions. The least decorated of the bunch, all Kid was able to do was earn three high school state championships in wrestling rich Arizona.

He's not getting a cake walk in his return either, as Yamamoto will face American Joe Warren who made his debut a winning one at DREAM 7 by defeating Chase Beebe. The Team Quest member is said to have been training with WEC standout Urijah Faber and the boys at Team Alpha Male who previously prepared teammate Joseph Benavidez for a fight with Yamamoto that never materialized.

While he's currently a little lost in the shuffle on a card loaded with talent and talked about match-ups, a dominant victory in his return to the ring will put Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto right back into the mix not only in DREAM, but also in the Pound-for-Pound discussion.

Welcome back, Kid.

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