(Once more, for old time’s sake…)
After three years away from MMA competition, Japanese legend Norifumi “KID” Yamamoto will be returning to action at UFC 184: Weidman vs. Belfort (February 28th, Los Angeles) against fellow bantamweight Roman Salazar. The UFC announced the booking last night.
Yamamoto has gone 0-3 under the UFC banner — good enough for an honorable mention in our biggest UFC busts list — including decision losses to Demetrious Johnson and Darren Uyenoyama back in 2011, and a first-round armbar loss to Vaughan Lee at UFC 144 in February 2012. Kid was supposed to come back last September against Ivan Menjivar, but withdrew for undisclosed reasons. The 37-year-old has only won a single fight since December 2007.
Salazar is the 9-3 cable guy who was submitted by Mitch Gagnon during his Octagon debut last month at UFC Fight Night 54. He’s a rebound opponent for Yamamoto, plain and simple. Then again, we thought the same thing about Vaughan Lee, so who knows. As Reed Kuhn recently pointed out, even one year of time away from the cage can have a drastically negative effect on a fighter’s win percentage. And you expect Kid Yamamoto to be effective after three years of inactivity, when he wasn’t doing that well in the first place? Let’s keep our expectations reasonable, here.
Side note: One of the unexpected benefits of the UFC’s over-saturated schedule is that veteran fighters seem to have more job security, because they’re needed to fill out main cards. Frank Mir has lost four in a row and was recently booked to fight Antonio Silva. Yves Edwards just ate his fifth consecutive defeat when he was submitted by Akbarh Arreola at UFC Fight Night 57 (although his loss against Yancy Medeiros last November was changed to a no-contest). Josh Koscheck has lost his last three, and he’ll be fighting at UFC 184 as well. So it shouldn’t really be a surprise that Yamamoto has been given another shot. Even if he loses to Salazar, the UFC might still need him for its next Fight Pass card in Japan.