Fight Sport Asia’s 2014 MMA Awards: Retired Fighter of the Year

2014 Retired Fighter of the Year


Winner: Enson Inoue

Courtesy of BoutReview

Enson Inoue is well respected as one of the pioneers of Japanese MMA in the 1990’s.  Beginning his career in 1995 with the Shooto promotion, Enson would go on to fight and win the Shooto Heavyweight World Title.  Enson Inoue made his UFC debut and was victorious in just over a minute, submitting Royce Alger with an armbar from his guard.  A loss to eventual UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Frank Shamrock, would be erased with an armbar win over eventual two-division UFC Champion, Randy Couture.  A Pride Fighting Championships debut bout in which Enson won in 24 seconds gave way to his entry into the Pride FC 2000 Grand Prix.  Enson Inoue would lose his qualifying bout to Mark Kerr.  Enson would fight three more times in Pride, losing all three efforts to some of the very best fighters at the time however, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Igor Vovchanchyn and Heath Herring.  Enson would take a 6 year hiatus from the sport following a loss to Tom Sauer in 2004.  Enson Inoue returned for his final fight in 2010 at Astra’s Farewell event, submitting Antz Nansen.

Enson Inoue is highly regarded as being a person who has helped MMA develop and evolve in it’s early stages.  Enson Inoue is active in the well being of the country of Japan.  Enson talked about his ventures into Northern Japan on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast, as well as other topics.  Enson has released his first book, ‘Live as a Man, Die as a Man, Become a Man’.

Inoue’s retirement ceremony took place at Vale Tudo Japan 6th this past November, putting an end to a 15-year career.


Enson’s statement to his fans:

I look across this arena tonight and all I feel is appreciation.
Appreciation for you the promoters who gives us fighters a battlefield,
Appreciation for the staff who work hard to make this possible,
Also appreciation to you the fans, for without you fans there would be no need for fighters. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I have never, not once turned away a fan and… I never will.

It’s hard to believe that today, I will be saying goodbye to this ring.
This ring has helped become the man I am today and it is the place that has helped me find my way in life.

The Yamatodamashii way.
It’s not about being tough but to accept your weaknesses and work to get stronger day by day.
Nor is it about having no fear, but it’s about having fears but never running from and facing them head one no matter how scared you may be.

The Yamatodamashii way is a way that helps me with the acceptance of dying tomorrow if means dying with honor,
The Yamatodamashii way gives me compassion to do everything in my power to help ones in need,
They Yamatodamashii way gives me integrity to do what right even if you may need to make great sacrifices or bear much suffering.

Every time I fought I climbed into this ring I acceptIng in my heart that I was going to die here.
I didn’t die but instead I was reborn as a real man.
A man that will live a life of Yamatodamashii and
A man that will face death with Yamatodamashii burning in my heart.

Everyone… Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

To fighting…. Thank and goodbye




Runner-up: Kazuhiro Nakamura

Courtesy of Bout Review

DEEP 70th Impact put a close to the career of one of Japan’s longest and most traveled veterans.  Nakamura lost his DEEP Middleweight title to current DEEP Light Heavyweight champ, Yoshiyuki Nakanishi, after a three round decision.  The loss didn’t keep Nakamura from setting aside his career as one of the more successful at middleweight in the history of MMA in Japan.  Nakamura was thrown directly into tough competition in his MMA career, fighting Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in his MMA debut.  Nakamura would go on to fight most of his Pride FC career at light heavyweight, beating former UFC champions Murilo Bustamante and Kevin Randleman, as well as Igor Vovchanchyn and Yuki Kondo.  Nakamura would finish his Pride career at 11-6, only losing to the best fighters at the time (Josh Barnett, Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, Mauricio Rua and Minotouro twice).

“Kaz” would make his transition to the UFC, debuting at UFC 76 against Lyoto Machida.  A decision loss to Machida and an injury against Sokoudjou, would see Nakamura released from the UFC, where he signed with Sengoku.  Nakamura would get wins over Paul Cahoon and Yuki Sasaki on his way to the 84kg Tournament finals against Jorge Santiago.  A third round stoppage would see Kaz fall short against the former fellow UFC fighter.  A submission loss to Kazuo Misaki would see Kaz switch over to DREAM before signing with DEEP in 2012.  Stepping outside his usual weightclass, Nakamura beat the likes of Sentoryu, Seigo Mizuguchi, Yuji Sakuragi and Daijiro Matsui at 88kg or more.












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Categories: Asian MMA, Featured, Japan, MMA


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