Japanese MMA superstar Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto, fresh off a loss to Joe Warren at Dream 9, has announced that he'll get back into the ring on July 13. But instead of fighting MMA, Yamamoto has taken a K-1 MAX kickboxing fight against South Korea's Jae hee Cheon. That represents an interesting challenge to Yamamoto, because the last time he fought in K-1, he got knocked cold by Mike Zambidis, as you can see in the video above. For thoughts on Yamamoto fighting in K-1, I turned to K-1 announcer Michael Schiavello, whose comments are below.
"When Kid lost to Joe Warren at DREAM.9 I expected he would want to bounce right back with a fight as soon as possible and he's doing that by fighting on the MAX card," Schiavello told me. "I give him full credit. I've seen a lot of fighters in the past suffer losses they didn't dream they ever would and not recover from them. They lose their sense of self worth, they take a long hiatus to reflect on what went wrong or they just disappear. Not Kid. In the online FEG fan poll as to who people most wanted Masato to fight, Kid was voted second behind Tatsuya Kawajiri. That speaks volumes for Kid's popularity among K-1 MAX fans, as we already know how ridiculously popular he is in DREAM.
"So him fighting on July 13 is a win-win for the fans, for FEG, for TBS as a broadcaster and for Kid. I mean, you're going to have Masato and Kid on the same card. That's a wet dream for every Japanese fight fan and most fight fans around the world. Of course this is not Kid's first fight in MAX. In his last ever MAX fight he suffered one of the worst knockouts I have ever seen on anybody when Mike Zambidis sent him to the astral plane back in 2005. That knockout would have been enough for most other MMA guys had they suffered to never want to step foot inside the stand-up ring again. Not Kid. The Zambidis fight was at 70kg (154 pounds) and the July 13 fight will be at 62kg (136 pounds), which is more to Kid's liking, and against a far less credentialled opponent than Zambidis. With FEG developing the 60kg lightweights as their next brand, it's smart to have Kid in there floating around that weight in stand up.
"I think Kid will always be primarily an MMA fighter but he will do more K-1 fights. He's a guy who loves fighting, who loves testing himself and who FEG will use as much as they can because everybody wants to see him kick ass."
The July 13 K-1 show featuring Kid Yamamoto will air on HDNet in the United States.