UFC 126: Kid Yamamoto's Top 10 Career-Defining Moments

Andrew GladstoneCorrespondent IFebruary 2, 2011

UFC 126: Kid Yamamoto's Top 10 Career-Defining Moments

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    Courtesy of Billy DeCola
    Courtesy of Billy DeCola

    Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto (18-3) is one of the most exciting fighters in the mixed martial arts world.

    Naturally a bantamweight fighter, Kid Yamamoto has taken on all comers and has fought as heavy as lightweight.

    At UFC 126, Yamamoto will meet Demetrius Johnson in a bantamweight bout, where he will finally hold a size advantage over his opponent.

    Originally known as a wrestler, Yamamoto has 13 of his 18 victories via KO or TKO.

    These are the top 10 moments in Kid Yamamoto's career.

Kid Yamamoto Leaves Shooto with a Bang

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    In 2003, Kid Yamamoto fought in the main event of his last ever bout for the Shooto organization against Caleb Mitchell.

    Mitchell was known for having a submission style, but unfortunately for Mitchell, the fight wouldn't stay on the mat, and Yamamoto dominated him.

    Not only did Yamamoto knock out Mitchell in devastating fashion, but Mitchell was also never seen in MMA again after being out cold.

    After this fight, Yamamoto began his career in K-1, where his star would shine.

Kid Yamamoto Knocks Out Royler Gracie

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    Back in 2005, Kid Yamamoto defeated dangerous submission specialist Royler Gracie in the opening round of the K-1 Hero's 2005 middleweight grand prix.

    In Round 1, we got to witness Yamamoto having to fight off his back and fend off a guillotine choke from a former four-time world Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion in Gracie.

    It was in Round 2 where we got to see another highlight-reel knockout from Yamamoto with a devastating right hook.

Kid Yamamoto Dominates WEC/UFC Veteran Jeff Curran

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    Kid Yamamoto fought in North America for the second time in his young career when he took on Jeff Curran for the Super Brawl promotion in 2003.

    Curran was expected to be a tough test for Yamamoto but could not get anything going and was thoroughly dominated throughout the fight.

    After having over 40 fights, Curran stated that, even 'til this day, Kid Yamamoto was the one of the most damaging fights he's ever been in.

Kid Yamamoto Snaps Two-Fight Losing Streak in 2010

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    At DREAM 14, Yamamoto was able to erase a two-fight losing streak by defeating Federico Lopez in a do-or-die situation.

    Once considered the top featherweight in the world and a pound-for-pound elite, Yamamoto showed that he is nowhere near done.

    While Lopez isn’t the best fighter in the world, Yamamoto went back to his roots and finished the fight in devastating fashion.

Kid Yamamoto Beats Up Tetsuo Katsuta After the Bell in Shooto

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    This fight doesn't really shine a bright light on Kid Yamamoto, but Yamamoto really stirred up the Japanese MMA scene in 2002 when he continued to strike Tetsuo Katsuta after the bell and then proceeded to show off his muscles.

    Yamamoto would then quickly apologize and hug Katsuta after he got up, but Yamamoto still started making headlines for his actions.

Kid Yamamoto Defeats UFC and Shooto Veteran Caol Uno

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    Courtesy of MMA Weekly
    Courtesy of MMA Weekly

    At K-1 Hero's 3, Caol Uno and Kid Yamamoto excited the Japanese audience in a stand-up war.

    Unfortunately for the crowd, Uno was hit with a grazing punch in Round 2 and was cut open with blood going into his right eye.

    After the bout, Uno hugged Yamamoto and congratulated Yamamoto on the victory.

Kid Yamamoto Refused to Take the Easy Route with Jadamba Narantungalag

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    Considering Jadamba Narantungalag's lack of MMA experience, some people may be puzzled why I rank this win so high for Yamamoto.

    However, Narantungalag was a K-1 kickboxer that decided to fight Yamamoto in an MMA rules match.

    Kid could've easily used his superior wrestling skills and finished Narantungalag on the mat, but instead, he chose to stand with the dangerous Narantungalag and knocked him out in the first round.

Kid Yamamoto Earns Second Fastest Knockout in MMA History

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    With a four-second knockout, is there even really much to say?

    Back at K-1 Hero's 5, Yamamoto earned himself the fastest knockout in K-1 Heros history when he defeated former Olympic wrestler Kazayuki Miyata with a flying knee.

    To this day, Yamamoto's knockout of Miyata is still one of the fastest knockouts in the history of mixed martial arts.

Defeating Genki Sudo to Capture the K-1 Hero's Middleweight Grand Prix

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    At K-1 DYNAMITE! 2005, Yamamoto defeated the famous Japanese fighter Genki Sudo for the K-1 Hero's middleweight grand prix title (Hero's middleweight fighters = lightweight fighters).

    Although the fight ended with an early TKO stoppage, Yamamoto won his first title in MMA and defeated a legend in Japanese MMA.

Kid Yamamoto Goes the Distance in K-1 with Masato

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    It isn't common to put a loss as one of the fighter's most career-defining moments, especially all the way at the end, but this fight was one of the best Kid Yamamoto performances of his entire career.

    For those who are unfamiliar with K-1, Yamamoto took on a former K-1 Max champion in Masato and gave up a significant size and reach advantage.

    No one at the time gave Kid Yamamoto a chance in this fight, but Yamamoto delivered.

    At K-1 DYNAMITE! 2004 under K-1 rules, Yamamoto may have lost the decision to Masato, but he put up a valiant effort.