Former Shooto Heavyweight champion and MMA icon, Enson Inoue returns to competition for the first time in six years at Astra, the retirement event for Hidehiko Yoshida.
Inoue, who is synonymous with his life credo of "Yamato Damashii," will face the former kickboxer, Antz "Notorious" Nansen on April 25 at Nippon Budokan.
He last fought in April 2004 against Tom Sauer at SuperBrawl 35. Upon losing the bout via TKO, he announced his retirement from fighting; however, he has since hinted at a return on several occasions. Now, he will re-assert his presence once again to the MMA world and commemorate the retirement of fellow MMA icon, Hidehiko Yoshida.
Given his long hiatus and short notice of the upcoming bout, Inoue spoke about the uncertainty regarding his physical condition and in-ring reflex come fight time. Nevertheless, he stated that his "spirit and heart are 100% ready" and that he is "willing to die" in the fight.
His opponent, Antz "Notorious" Nansen made his MMA debut at Sengoku 10 and earned a first-round knock out victory against the fellow MMA newcomer and 2004 Olympic judo silver medalist, Hiroshi Izumi. New Zealand native and disciple of K-1 veteran, Jason Suttie, Nansen captured WKBF and IKF titles during his kickboxing career.
Inoue holds a notable victory over Randy Couture at Vale Tudo Japan 1998 and has had memorable battles against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Heath Herring, Igor Vovchanchyn, Mark Kerr, and Frank Shamrock over his 19-fight career. Outside his fight career, he made a cameo appearance in the David Mamet-directed martial arts film, Redbelt in 2008. He also runs several MMA gyms in Japan, Guam, and Saipan under the Purebred brand and has played an instrumental role in launching the career of Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto.
In October 2008, he was charged with the possession of up to 16.9 grams of marijuana. After a nearly month long stint in Japanese slammer, he was released on bail. He still resides in Japan, but his visa status has come under review.
Stay tuned to MMAmania for more information regarding the Astra event in the coming weeks.