The mixed martial arts world has lost a legend.
Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, one of the biggest stars in Japanese MMA history passed away early Tuesday at only 41 years old. He announced less than a month prior that he had been battling cancer. Yamamoto passed away in Guam, where he had been receiving treatment.
"Kid" was a standout in lighter weight divisions, well before they were the norm in the United States. He made his name competing in Shooto, K-1 and Hero's before wrapping up his MMA career with an ill-fated run int he UFC. He had big wins over the likes of Rani Yahya, Bibiano Fernandes, Genki Sudo, Caol Uno and Royler Gracie. He was the victor of the Hero's 2005 Lightweight Grand Prix, as well.
Yamamoto's celebrity was huge in Japan, and was the subject of many endorsements.He also came from a family of athletes, with his father representing Japan in the 1972 Munich Olympics and two sisters won World Championships in wrestling.
His win over Rani Yahya in front of a huge crowd at the Osaka Dome in 2007 was set to be his retirement fight, as he planned to pursue an Olympic run in 2008, but he would come back just a couple of years later after being injured by Kenji Inoue.
Yamamoto didn't win any of his four UFC fights, and last competed in 2015 after a three year layoff in a fight with Roman Salazar that would end in a no-contest due to an accidental eye poke.
Our condolences go out to Yamamoto's friends, family and fans.