Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto is snake bitten or maybe it's simply that the division has caught and passed him by. The Japanese legend was shocked by Vaughan Lee in a submission defeat at 4:29 of the first round at UFC 144 in Tokyo, Japan.
Yamamoto, a huge knockout artist with good wrestling, was controlling the fight. With 1:04 left in the round, Kid got into a mix up with Lee. The Brit threw a bevy of right hand uppercuts and two body shots. Then came a right hook that landed on the Kid's chin. The Japanese legend stepped back and his right leg was like jello. Vaughn charged forward to attack but Yamamoto scored a takedown.
Still, he was in a no-win situation. Yamamoto was trying to slow the fight down, but he went into the guard of an excellent submission fighter. Lee (12-7-1, 1-1 UFC) quickly threw his legs up. He slapped on a triangle choke and eventually switched to an armbar. Yamamoto held out for a few seconds before tapping.
When he was freed from the hold, Yamamoto punched the canvas in frustration.
It's been a tough run for Yamamoto (18-6-1), who's now 0-3 in the UFC. Keep in the mind, this was a guy who went 14-0 from 2002-2007. Between injuries and the competition getting better, Yamamoto looks like he may be headed back to the minors. He's lost 5-of-6 overall.
Gomi escapes with win after horrendous first round
It looked like it was going to be a disastrous night for some of the former standard bearers of Japanese MMA. Takanori Gomi bounced back from the rough opening round to pour it on in the second and come away with a win over Eiji Mitsuoka.
It wasn't the prettiest win but one well earned and Gomi showed some gumption. With a minute left in the first, the 33-year-old fighter got drilled with a right hand and found himself caught in an inverted triangle for over 30 seconds. With seven seconds left in the round, Gomi lifted his hand and was ready to tap, but held out until the horn sounded.
When he got to the break, his cornermen told him that Mitsuoka was exhausted. They were right. Gomi came out for the second and threw a ton of punches behind a stiff jab. Mitsuoka backed up and stumbled around the cage with hands down and head pointed to the ground.
He tried to slow things down by shooting for a takedown. Gomi stayed patient with a good, wide sprawl against the cage. He eventually transitioned to hip control. Mitsuoka was done. He turtled and took 20-plus shots before referee Leon Roberts saved him.
It's tough to crush Mitsuoka (18-8-1, 0-1 UFC) for gassing. He did take the fight on short notice when George Sotiropoulos had to bow out with an an injury. Yes, Mitsuoka is also Japanese, but a win from the bigger-name fighter here was huge. Gomi (33-6-1) is now 2-3 in the UFC.
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