MMA and K-1 Legend Norifumi KID Yamamoto Passes Away at 41

Norifumi KID Yamamoto (KID Yamamoto/Twitter)

In what was shocking, abrupt news, last night Krazy Bee dropped a bombshell on the combat sports community informing everyone of the death of Norifumi Yamamoto — better known as KID Yamamoto. KID Yamamoto is perhaps best known for his time as a grappler and mixed martial artist, but KID was instrumental in K-1’s success in the mid-00’s as not only a banner fighter for their MMA brand, HERO’s, but also competing in K-1 MAX’s incredibly competitive 70kg division.

He left the sport of kickboxing with a 1-3-1 record, but that does not do him justice for the amount of attention that he was able to bring to the K-1 MAX brand. He mostly competed as an MMA fighter, though, compiling an 18-6 record that saw him go on a hot streak in 2002 to 2007 that saw him win a staggering 14 fights during that period. To many he was considered one of the pound-for-pound greats of that era, with wins over Jeff Curran, Royler Gracie, Caol Uno, Genki Sudo, Kazuyuki Miyata, Bibiano Fernandes and more.

KID Yamamoto made the rare move for a Japanese athlete of his stature to the UFC, where he would finish out his storied career with a 0-3-1 record before returning to Japan where he continued to be a strong ambassador for combat sports, including an exhibition bout against K-1 rival Masato on New Year’s Eve 2015.

On August 26th KID Yamamoto announced that he had cancer, which makes the announcement of his sudden death just over three weeks later all the more jarring. Yamamoto leaves behind two sons and a daughter, plus a legacy as one of the all-time greats.