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Kazuyuki Fujita Bio

Kazuyuki Fujita (藤田 和之, Fujita Kazuyuki) (born October 16, 1970) is a Japanese professional wrestler, mixed martial artist and a former amateur wrestler. He has fought in mixed martial arts promotions including Pride Fighting Championships, K-1 and World Victory Road. He competes in mixed martial arts, shoot style wrestling and puroresu, and holds notable victories over Ken Shamrock, Gilbert Yvel, Mark Kerr, Bob Sapp, Karam Gaber, Peter Graham, and James Thompson.

Contents

  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Professional wrestling career
    • 2.1 New Japan Pro Wrestling (1996-2005)
    • 2.2 Inoki Genome Federation (2011-present)
  • 3 Mixed martial arts career
  • 4 In wrestling
  • 5 Championships and accomplishments
  • 6 Mixed martial arts record
  • 7 Filmography
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links

Early life

Fujita practiced freestyle wrestling in high school. He participated in the FILA World Championships as a junior in 1988, placing sixth, and in the Espoir division in 1989, placing eleventh. In 1993, Fujita placed fifth at the Asian Championships at the senior level, and in 1993 and 1994, he represented Japan as a senior in the World Cup, a dual meet tournament. He was also a national champion in Japan in Greco-Roman wrestling. He missed making the Japanese Olympic team by 1 point in the Olympic qualifiers.

Professional wrestling career

New Japan Pro Wrestling (1996-2005)

Fujita joined New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1993, but he still competed in amateur wrestling. Because of this his professional debut was delayed three years until 1996. His debut match was against Yuji Nagata. Fujita steadily worked his way up the card, and in 1999 he started working against professional wrestlers who came from a Vale Tudo mixed martial arts background.

In April 2001 he returned to NJPW, and quickly won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship defeating Scott Norton at Strong Style 2001 on April 9. He reigned as the champion until he was forced to vacate the title due to injury in January 2002.

Fujita returned to New Japan in the summer of 2002. At NJPW Cross Road on August 29, Fujita entered a tournament for the vacated NWF Heavyweight Championship but lost to eventual winner: Yoshihiro Takayama. On October 14, Fujita challenged Yuji Nagata for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship but came up short.

Fujita immediately won the vacated title by defeating Hiroshi Tanahashi. He lost the championship to Kensuke Sasaki on October 9, 2004.

In 2005 he joined the Team JAPAN faction, and on July 18, 2005 he won the championship for the third time against Hiroyoshi Tenzan. In August 2005, Fujita entered the 2005 G1 Climax where he won all his matches in the round robin portion, then defeated Toshiaki Kawada but lost to Masahiro Chono in the finals. He lost the IWGP Championship to Brock Lesnar on October 8, 2005 at Toukon Souzou New Chapter in a three way match including Masahiro Chono. Lesnar pinned Chono to win the title. In late 2005 he withdrew from a rematch with Lesnar, scheduled for January 4, 2006. Fujita was represented by Inoki Office, an agency originally started by Antonio Inoki, and had not been under a contract with NJPW.

Inoki Genome Federation (2011-present)

Fujita returned to professional wrestling in 2011 with the Inoki Genome Federation (IGF) promotion, where he got in a feud with Naoya Ogawa.

Mixed martial arts career

In January 2000 Fujita put his professional wrestling career on hiatus and began training for mixed martial arts competition. His trainer was his professional wrestling mentor and mixed martial arts legend, Antonio Inoki, as well as luta livre veteran Marco Ruas.

Kazuyuki entered the PRIDE organization as part of the 2000 Openweight Grand Prix. His first opponent was Fighting Network RINGS alumnus Hans Nijman, who Fujita beat fast by taking him down and submitting him with a wrestling neck crank. After this success, Inoki sent him abroad to compete in American promotion Extreme Shootout, where he KOed Dan Chase and then submitted Will Childs, before returning to PRIDE.

On May 1, Fujita competed at Pride Grand Prix 2000 Finals, where he would score the first big win of his career by defeating Mark Kerr, who at the time was considered to be one of the best heavyweights in MMA. Kerr dominated early in the match, taking the Japanese down and hitting ground and pound through his guard, followed by a series of knee strikes to the head, but Fujita endured shockingly all the punishment and waited for his opportunity. It finally came when Kerr became visibly tired from attacking, moment in which Kazuyuki took him down, taking his back and launching his own series of knee strikes and hammerfists. Kerr turtled up while Fujita scored points over him by striking unceasingly, and at the end the referee stopped the match in Fujita's favour. His win over Kerr was considered to be a gigantic upset, and was the first loss in Kerr's career snapping a 13 fight unbeaten streak.

Fujita's next fight was against former UFC Heavyweight Champion Mark Coleman in the semi finals of the Grand Prix, but the NJPW corner threw the towel started the match to avoid risks for Fujita's health. Despite Fujita was eliminated the tournament, he became a star with the Japanese crowds for his victory over Kerr and the toughness demonstrated in the fight, which gained him the nickname of "Ironhead". As Fujita himself noted, "I am not so great a puncher, not so great a kicker. I don't really have anything all that great, but in today's vale tudo, the strongest is the one that can take a beating."

At Pride 10, Fujita next fought MMA superstar Ken Shamrock. Like in the Kerr fight, Fujita took another incredible beating yet was not knocked out, and Shamrock then began to experience heart attack symptoms and had his corner throw in the towel, resulting in another massive win for Fujita and his career. Color commentator Eddie Bravo proclaimed during Fujita's fight with Shamrock, "that guy can take a baseball bat to the side of the head!".

He followed up his titanic wins over Kerr and Shamrock with a win over dangerous striker Gilbert Yvel at Pride 12. Fujita scored takedowns and dominated positionally Yvel for most of the match, only occasionally trying armlocks, in order to secure a decision win. It was after this match that commentator Stephen Quadros coined the term "lay and pray" to describe the strategy.

In May 2001 at Pride 14, Fujita defeated fellow pro wrestler Yoshihiro Takayama by submission in his first PRIDE main event. Notably, Takayama was similarly able to take a great punishment, enduring knees to the head and punches, but Kazuyuki submitted him via triangle choke.

On August 19 at the K-1 Andy Hug 2001 GP Final, Fujita fought K-1 legend and future MMA legend Mirko Cro Cop in Cro Cop's MMA debut. The fight was short and brutal, with Fujita performing a takedown which Cro Cop tried to avoid with a knee strike to the face. Though Fujita was unfazed, it opened a cut in his eye, which moved the referee to stop the match for a TKO loss for the Japanese. Fujita was baffled and he requested a rematch, which was conceded for the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye event. This match would be longer and more intense, with Fujita repeatedly taking him down and the kickboxer successfully defending from the bottom. At the second half of the match, Cro Cop started sprawling his takedown and threw multiple unanswered knees to the head, although they characteristically failed at knocking Fujita out. The fight went to a decision, which was won by Mirko.

In 2003, after Fujita defeated fellow NJPW pro wrestler Manabu Nakanishi, he launched a challenge to PRIDE champion Fedor Emelianenko for a match in Pride 26. When it came, Kazuyuki shocked the world by stunning Emelianenko with a heavy counter right hand, but despite his best attempts to remain on the offensive Emelianenko recovered and defeated Fujita with a rear naked choke submission. At the end of the year, Fujita defeated American boxer: Imamu Mayfield by submission at Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003.

In May 2004, Fujita made his debut for the K-1 MMA event ROMANEX, taking on then IWGP Heavyweight Champion Bob Sapp. Not fearing Sapp's size and fame, Fujita executed a takedown and went aggressively for Sapp on the ground, repeatedly landing punches and soccer kicks on his head. At this moment, Sapp ceased fighting and only covered himself to defend Fujita's assault. Finally, the referee stopped the match for a TKO victory. Sapp had to vacate his championship after this performance, while Kazuyuki adopted the nickname of "The Real Beast" to capitalize on Sapp's own "The Beast" moniker.

Egyptian Greco-Roman wrestler and Olympic gold medalist Karam Gaber was his next opponent, at the K-1 Premium 2004 Dynamite!! event. The younger and bigger Karam managed to push down and fend off Kazuyuki, but he landed a punch after one minute which knocked out Gaber.

On May 5, 2006 at PRIDE Total Elimination Absolute, Fujita returned to MMA by competing in PRIDE's 2006 Openweight Grand Prix making him the only fighter in PRIDE's history to have competed in both openweight grand prixs. In the first round, Fujita defeated James Thompson by knockout. Typically, Thompson dominated Fujita for most of the fight, until Fujita rallied with a flurry of punches that knocked out him at his weakest point.

At the quarterfinals, Fujita fought PRIDE Middleweight champion and feared muay thai striker Wanderlei Silva. The match was wild, with Silva landing soccer kicks and knees while Fujita relentlessly kept on and tried to handle him on the ground, including an armbar attempt he had to power out from. At the end of the fight, Wanderlei scored more punches and soccer kicks, winning the fight for referee stoppage despite not knocking out Fujita.

After defeating freestyle champion Eldar Kurtanidze by submission due to strikes, Fujita was pitted against Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Jeff Monson. The Japanese wrestler fended off takedowns and choke attempts, but Monson was able to lock one of them to make Kazuyuki tap out. The fight was historic as it would be the final fight in PRIDE's history. Fujita would lose by submission.

After PRIDE was sold to Zuffa, Fujita joined the new promotion: World Victory Road. He debuted on March 5, 2008 at Sengoku 1 where he defeated Peter Graham by submission. Fujita next fight was against Travis Wiuff at Sengoku 3 where he lost by TKO.

On August 2, 2009, Fujita was defeated by Blagoi Ivanov at World Victory Road's ninth event, Sengoku 9.

On December 31, 2009 at Dynamite!! 2009, Fujita took on Alistair Overeem and was knocked out via knee to the head in the first round. This was the first time Fujita has been knocked unconscious.

After a 4-year hiatus from the sport, Fujita returned to face Satoshi Ishii on December 31, 2013 at Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2013 for the IGF Championship. Fujita lost the bout via unanimous decision, marking his fourth loss in a row.

In wrestling

  • Finishing moves
    • High knee
    • Rear naked choke
    • Soccer kick to the opponent's head
  • Signature moves
    • Double leg slam
    • Guillotine choke
    • Multiple knee strikes to the opponent's chest
    • Powerbomb
    • Spear
    • Standing arm triangle choke

Championships and accomplishments

Mixed Martial Arts

  • Extreme Shootout
    • 2000 Extreme Shootout - The Underground Tournament Winner
  • Fight Matrix
    • 2000 Rookie of the Year
  • PRIDE Fighting Championships
    • 2000 PRIDE Openweight Grand Prix Semi-Finalist

Pro Wrestling

  • Inoki Genome Federation
    • IGF Championship (1 time)
  • New Japan Pro Wrestling
    • IWGP Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
    • Singles Best Bout (2005) vs. Masahiro Chono on August 14
  • Tokyo Sports
    • Match of the Year (2001) vs. Yuji Nagata on June 6, 2001
    • Rookie of the Year (1997)

Mixed martial arts record

Filmography

External links

  • K-1sport.de - Complete Fighters Profile of Kazuyuki Fujita
  • Professional MMA record for Kazuyuki Fujita from Sherdog Edit this at Wikidata
  • FILA Wrestling Database

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