On December 31, 2007 Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto hit his fighting peak. In the co-main event of K-1 Dynamite 2007, Kid Yamamoto blasted Rani Yahya with punches and soccer kicks until the Brazilian slumped over in defeat. The soul stealing of Yahya moved Yamamoto to 17-1 in pro MMA and the 30 year old Japanese fighter was the uncrowned king of every cage fighting human being weighing less than 145 pounds.
After a three year layoff Yamamoto returns to the UFC’s Octagon at UFC 184 in Los Angeles, California. In his comeback bout Yamamoto is paired with unknown Roman Salazar. Already 0-1 in the UFC, Salazar doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page attached to his name. With 0-3 record in the UFC, Yamamoto’s final Octagon stand will take place on February 28th at the Staples Center.
Even in the twilight of his fighting career it feels like Yamamoto deserves better than the role of “UFC on Fox prelim warm body placeholder”. Yamamoto began his UFC run in 2011, fought twice that year and dropped decisions to both Demetrious Johnson as well as Darren Uyenoyama. Yamamoto’s last fight took place at 144 in Japan where he was upset and submitted by Vaughan Lee in February 2012.
The 26 year old Salazar stepped in for an injured Rob Font at UFC Fight Night 54 in Canada. Fighting on one week’s notice, Salazar was choked out by Mitch Gagnon in his UFC debut.
In his final swing at UFC glory, if Kid Yamamoto has any knockout pop in his hands or skull crushing power in his kicks left the time to unleash it would be at UFC 184. Sorry Roman Salazar but the MMA world has patiently waited for its first Kid Yamamoto UFC highlight GIF since New Year’s Eve 2007.