Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight Norifumi Yamamoto is part of a recent wave of mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters who have migrated from Japan, in search of something bigger and better.
With the on-again-off-again status of DREAM and the collapse of Sengoku, many of the bigger names who fought on the Asian tour were sent shuffling off to different shores, in order to find more lucrative employment.
The experiment was not a success, at least not initially.
However, things seem to have taken a turn for the better, with recent wins by Hatsu Hioki (as controversial as it was) and Michihiro Omigawa bringing Japanese mixed martial arts (JMMA) back into a more relevant standing.
On Sat., Nov. 12, Yamamoto will be taking on Darren Uyenoyama at UFC on FOX in Anaheim, Calif. "Kid" has lost three of his last four fights, including his UFC debut to Demetrious Johnson at UFC 126 on Feb. 5.
What impact would a Yamamoto win at UFC on FOX have for JMMA?
Looks can be deceiving.
Though Yamamoto's recent record is not impressive, one of his losses came to Bellator Fighting Championships featherweight champion Joe Warren and the other to Demetrious Johnson, who went on to get a title shot after beating Miguel Torres in his next fight.
He's not losing to chumps and he only recently made the move from featherweight to bantamweight.
Yamamoto's opponent, Uyenoyama, will be making his UFC debut. Certainly, both fighters will be coming in desperate for a win.
It could be looked at as somewhat of a "win-win," as Uyenoyama is also of Asian decent and has fought on the Japanese circuit. However, Yamamoto is a bigger name and is much more widely associated with JMMA.
Up until very recently, fans were ready to drive the last nail into the coffin of JMMA. After Hioki's win over George Roop at UFC 137 on Oct. 29 in Las Vegas, "Iron Broom" proclaimed that JMMA isn't dead. Apparently, it was just taking a nap.
Omigawa's win over Jason Young at UFC 138 on Nov. 5 in Birmingham, England was much more decisive than that of Hioki. It was certainly a great shot in the arm for JMMA.
A win by Yamamoto shouldn't be overstated, but it would definitely help quiet the hecklers who have stated that JMMA fighters are overrated.
Do you Maniacs anticipate "Kid" handling his business on Saturday at UFC on FOX? If he wins, will it be a big deal or JMMA or just a step in the right direction?