Hot on the heels of the signing of Michihiro Omigawa, Dana White has revealed that another Japanese star Norifumi ‘Kid’ Yamamoto has been welcomed into the UFC fold.
The UFC president confirmed the news to a fan on twitter today, stating “We did sign Kid.” White has been keeping tabs on the 33 year-old for some time, admitting last year that he was a, “big fan” of him.
Between 2002-2007 the highly regarded and exciting featherweight fighter went unbeaten in 14 fights, finishing ten of those by KO or TKO and winning the K-1 Hero’s 2005 middleweight grand-prix along the way.
A knee injury then kept Yamamoto out of action for well over a year, and when he returned in mid-2009 to fight for the DREAM promotion his winning streak quickly dissolved, losing twice in succession. This year he’s fought just once at DREAM 14, getting back to winning ways with a KO victory to take his career record to 18-3 (1nc).
Interestingly it is believed that Yamamoto will move down to bantamweight for his first fight in the UFC, taking on a tough opponent in Demitrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson.
The signing of both Yamamoto and Omigawa highlights the UFC’s commitment to further strengthening the lighter weight classes they are about to inherit from the WEC, but it’s also an indication of the weakness in the Japanese scene at this moment in time, with DREAM currently believed to be in severe final difficulties.