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Masanori Kanehara Beats Kid Yamamoto at Dynamite 2009

The legendary Japanese mixed martial artist Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto returned to the ring on New Year's Eve at Dynamite 2009, but he still can't get back in the win column: Yamamoto lost a unanimous decision to Masanori Kanehara.

At times Yamamoto showed flashes of the striking prowess that made him one of the best fighters in the world a few years ago. But he also showed a lot of ring rust, and it's fair to wonder whether the soon-to-be 33-year-old Yamamoto will ever be a Top 10 featherweight again.

Injuries prevented Yamamoto from fighting at all in 2008, and prior to New Year's Eve he fought just twice in 2009 -- once in MMA and once in kickboxing -- and lost both.

Now Yamamoto has lost once again, to a capable fighter in Kanehara (who won this year's Sengoku featherweight tournament) but to a fighter that the Yamamoto of 2005 would have destroyed. It's kind of sad to see, but "Kid" Yamamoto is no longer among the sport's elite fighters.

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