2018 has been another memorable year in the history of the sport of mixed martial arts, but sadly the past 12 months have also marked the end of a number of fighters lives.
From MMA pioneers through to up-and-comers in the fledgling stages of their careers, in this article we’ll pay our respects to eight fighters who passed away in 2018.
Norifumi ‘Kid’ Yamamoto
The MMA world went into mourning on September 18th when the death of 42-year-old Japanese star Norifumi ‘Kid’ Yamamoto was announced following a battle with stomach cancer.
Yamamoto had reportedly been diagnosed with the disease as early as 2016, but had opted to keep the news from the public. By 2018 he was terminally ill and receiving treatment in Guam when on August 26th he decided the time was right to tell fans of his plight in an Instagram post, just weeks before his death.
In his heyday, ‘Kid’ had been one of Japan’s biggest MMA stars, making his name in promotions like Shooto and K-1, before going on to win Hero’s 2004 lightweight grand-prix, beating a string of notable names like Royler Gracie, Caol Uno and Genki Sudo along the way.
In his next fight Yamamoto claimed the record for the fastest knockout ever in a major promotion, KO’ing Kazuyuki Miyata with a flying knee in just 4 seconds at Hero’s 5 in 2006.
Later in his career, Yamamoto would go on to fight for DREAM and was then signed by the UFC in 2011, with his final bout coming in early 2015, a year before his cancer diagnosis, leaving him with an overall 18-6 (+2nc) record.
Yamamoto is survived by two sons and two daughters by his former wife, Japanese fashion model MALIA.