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‘How Far They’ve Fallen’ Alert: Norifumi ‘Kid’ Yamamoto

(Props: spicadocious)

There was a time, not too long ago, when Norifumi Yamamoto was considered to be far-and-away the world’s best fighter under 155 pounds. His star-making run in K-1′s MMA shows from 2004-2007 featured Kid savagely knocking out fighters like Caol Uno, Royler Gracie, Rani Yahya, and most famously, Kazuyuki Miyata in just 4 seconds. Yamamoto hasn’t been the same since he returned to competition last year following a knee injury layoff, and has dropped back-to-back decisions against Joe Warren and Masanori Kanehara. Still, we weren’t expecting this recent news from MMAFighting:

Japanese star Kid Yamamoto is expected to make his Strikeforce debut on May 15 against Federico Lopez. The fight is not officially signed, but sources say it is close. The fight would be contested at 135 pounds. As of right now, the fight isn’t expected to air on Showtime.

FYI, Federico Lopez is a 4-2 Team Quest product who has lost his last two matches. I only have one question: You kiddin’ me? While promoting Yamamoto in the U.S. has its share of challenges — Strikeforce’s lack of a bantamweight division, for one thing — Yamamoto is a true legend, and one of the biggest MMA stars that Japan has ever produced. Recent losses aside, Yamamoto would still have great value in the hands of the right promoter. At the very least, why wouldn’t you have him headline a "Challengers" event, instead of sticking him on the dark portion of "Heavy Artillery"? (I still wouldn’t trust Showtime to show his fight between/after main card bouts, UFC-style.) Will Strikeforce be able to convince casual fans why Kid Yamamoto matters? After the jump: The tentative lineup that Yamamoto may be getting lost in…

Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery
Scottrade Center, St. Louis; 5/15/10

Alistair Overeem vs. Brett Rogers
Andrei Arlovski vs. Antonio Silva
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza vs. Joey Villasenor*
Roger Gracie vs. Kevin Randleman*
Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro vs. Lyle Beerbohm or Mitsuhiro Ishida*

Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto vs. Federico Lopez*
Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante vs. Antwain Britt*
Jesse Finney vs. Justin DeMoney
Fransisco "Kiko" France vs. Lee Brousseau
Mike Chandler vs. Sal Woods
Pat Benson vs. Erik Steenberg
Matt Ricehouse vs. Tom Aaron
Booker DeRousse vs. Darryl Cobb

* Reported as likely or possible but not officially announced by Strikeforce yet.

Cagepotato Comments

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dumbfucks- April 21, 2010 at 3:35 pm
"How far they've fallen" More lol's @ you.
Old_Bald_and_Irish- April 21, 2010 at 9:52 am
All in all, that's a pretty sweet lookin' card.

I luvs me my "Smokin' Joe"!

I have no problem with, and agree with the idea of, a tune-up match for Yamamoto. But fer cryin' out loud, it should be on the main card. Ya gotta promote these dudes early and get them in front of people's eyeballs early.

If ya put Yamamoto on the main card, give him a tune up opponent, talk him up as this Beast from the East and then have him smash his opponent in spectacular fashion

....well then, you've just created some decent buzz for a legendary Japanese fighter.

I think that's why a lot of people (except the hardcores) didn't buzz on Aoki. If they got to see him break someones arm BEFORE fighting Gilbert, it may have been a different story.
destinationblood- April 21, 2010 at 8:00 am
its a tune up match, get some kind of hype going........besides he cant fight melendez for another 6-9 once his suspension is over
ReX13- April 21, 2010 at 7:56 am
Junbo79>> While you make a good point, i don't think i appreciate your condescending tone, friend.
junbo79- April 21, 2010 at 7:52 am
Did it ever occur to anyone that maybe he wanted to start slow? What would be the point of putting him on a main card against a formidable opponent only to get embarrassed?

I get it, Japanese legend, top Japanese draw for years, Japanese legend, blah blah blah

If anyone watched his last 2 fights, you would know that he has not been the same. If I was on top of the world, then get a major knee injury, come back, and get my ass handed to me twice, well I would want to fight a dark match too.

It's a confidence builder. They just did the same thing for Miller and I don't recall people all up in arms that someone that they accepted as a contender to a freaking title is now fighting in a dark match. I know Miller will never achieve what "kid" has and it's a hard comparison, but the point is the man just challenged for a title, then fought in a dark match.

Your career goes on a fast track to no where if all your a doing is losing. I would bet that Yamamoto's management saw to getting him a paycheck, while giving him his confidence back.

I could care less about Strikeforce and predict they fold just like the next guy, but it is plain ignorance to think that this is only Strikeforce and Cokers idea.

Horror Fighter- April 21, 2010 at 7:25 am
You don't understand: When Aoki lost, Japan became an official MMA colony of the United States. Ergo, Yamamoto HAS to fight at Strikeforce.

Good thing for him Strikeforce will be out of business before 5/15. I know because Dana White said so.
ReX13- April 21, 2010 at 7:11 am
Damn dude, for real? I thought Yamamoto would be viable in America: ripped and tatted and KTFOing dudes--'Mericans would love him. Now he's dropping weight and headed to a dark card? WTH?