'Kid' Yamamoto squares off with newcomer Darren Uyenoyama. Photo by Esther Lin, MMAFighting.com
UFC President Dana White has stated that he loves 'Kid' Yamamoto. He might want to re-think the fights he's been giving the Japanese import as he was once again bested, losing an unanimous decision to Darren Uyenoyama (30-27, 30-26, 30-27).
Uyenoyama nearly finished off Yamamoto in the first round, sinking in a rear naked choke with seconds left in the round. Yamamoto survived to the bell, but he easily lost the round after Uyenoyama was able to secure back control late in the round and threaten.
Yamamoto landed a brutal left hand early in the second that opened up Uyenoyama's face, but it didn't stop Darren from completing a takedown and controlling the back of Yamamoto for the rest of the round. Yamamoto surprisingly avoided the choke. Unfortunately, he accepted the alternative, a bevy of punches to the side of the head and the body.
Uyenoyama continued his dominance on the ground in the third, threatening Yamamoto from rubber guard with possible transitions to submissions. Yamamoto eventually escaped with roughly two minutes left in the round, but he was never able to mount a comeback.
Yamamoto was once considered one of the most popular fighters in Japan, drawing in droves of fans during Japan's boom period for mixed martial arts. During his heyday, he was one of the most feared strikers in the featherweight division, but age has caught up with him. He entered tonight's contest at 1-3 in his last four appearances, dropping decisions to Demetrious Johnson, Masanori Kanehara, and Joe Warren.
Uyenoyama has been on the shelf since September of last year, reportedly due to contract issues with Shooto in Japan. His most recent win against Shooto featherweight champion Shuichiro Katsumura is one of his most notable as it came six months after Katsumura knocked off former champion Masakatsu Ueda. Unfortunately, the bout was a non-title affair, and a rematch never came to fruition. Tonight's match-up was the 32-year-old's first fight back in the States since 2008.