K-1 Hero’s 5 took place in Tokyo on May 3, 2006. In keeping with K-1’s rich tradition of packing its MMA events with jaw-dropping talent as well as bizarre sideshows, the card featured legitimate rising stars such as Gesias Cavalcante and Yoshihiro Akiyama alongside a bout between Don Frye and 500-pound retired sumo Chad Rowan. Frye was currently mired in a five-fight winless streak, while “Akebono” was 0-2 and—mild spoiler—would go on to never win a mixed martial arts bout.
In the main event, Norifumi Yamamoto, fresh from winning the K-1 Hero’s 2005 middleweight (70 kg) grand prix, faced Kazuyuki Miyata. At the opening bell, “Kid” took four rapidly accelerating steps across the ring, launched himself into the air and drilled his opponent in the face with a flying knee. Miyata was knocked stiff instantaneously, while Yamamoto spun 180 degrees in mid-air, stuck the landing and finished him off with a single standing-to-ground punch. At four seconds, it remains one of the shortest bouts in major MMA history, and may be the only other flying knee that can hold a candle to Jorge Masvidal’s 2019 starching of Ben Askren.
Of the men who competed that night, Cavalcante, Akiyama and Rani Yahya went on to become Top 10 fighters, as did a 309-pound Antonio Silva, who crushed 279-pound Tom Erikson in their super heavyweight bout, but would soon drop to heavyweight for good. Yamamoto would go on to enjoy another year or two of his competitive prime—and cement his legend status—before injury layoffs, an overdue and ill-fated stint in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and his untimely death from cancer in September of 2018.
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• The MMA Hall of [email protected]#$%&G Awesome: Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto