After twelve years and thirty-three fights, PRIDE and UFC veteran Kazuhiro Nakamura entered the ring for the last time. The retirement match came against Yoshiyuki Nakanishi in the main event of DEEP 70 Impact last Saturday.
Nakamura came to life as a martial artist as a judoka under Hidehiko Yoshida. He made his mixed martial arts debut in 2003 at PRIDE 25 and, like many Japanese talents, he was thrown into the deep end immediately, with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and a second-round armbar welcoming him to the world of MMA. Nakamura would catch on quickly, though, and his grappling acumen, combined with a natural durability and a willingness to trade on the feet, would see him to a 11-6 record in PRIDE, which included victories over Murilo Bustamante, Kevin Randleman, and Igor Vovchanchyn, as well as bouts with Wanderlei Silva, Josh Barnett, and Mauricio Rua.
Following Zuffa's buyout of PRIDE, Nakamura landed in the UFC's light-heavyweight division, but was released after an 0-2 run with the organization. Stints in Sengoku and Dream would follow. In 2012, Nakamura took up residency in long-time JMMA promotion DEEP, where Nakamura would post a 6-2 record and see his last years as a mixed martial artist play out.
Nakamura had, for the last two years, been largely feasting on journeyman competition, dispatching the likes of Daijiro Matsui (12-25-6) and Henry Miller (6-15) with ease. However, in his retirement fight this Saturday, Nakamura was taking on another DEEP champion in Yoshiyuki Nakanishi (15-3-0), and the stiffer competition would yield perhaps predictable results. Four years after Nakamura defeated his mentor Hidehiko Yoshida by unanimous decision in the Olympian's farewell bout, Nakamura would lose his own retirement match, also by unanimous decision. He retires from MMA with a 21-13-0 record.
Also on the card, Daisuke Nakamura (28-15-1, 2-1 PRIDE, 3-1 Dream, 0-1 Strikeforce) bested Yoichi Fukumoto by third-round TKO. It's Nakamura's first victory in over two years.
Meanwhile, at Fight Nights: Battle 18 in Moscow, middleweight terror and former Bellator champion Alexander Shlemenko (51-9, 11-3 Bellator) risked a third straight loss against Yasubey Enomoto (12-6, 3-1 Sengoku). Shlemenko was in a deep slump heading into last Saturday's fight; a submission loss to Tito Ortiz in May seemed to have kicked off a string of defeats, including an upset loss to title challenger Brandon Halsey and, after that, an ill-fated sambo match. On Saturday, though, Shlemenko's reputed intensity and multi-faceted arsenal would see him back to the win column.
Enomoto made frequent use of kicks to try and keep the Russian at bay, and he showed some impressive durability and ferocity of his own when Shlemenko did manage to close the distance, frequently trading hooks and uppercuts in the clinch. Ultimately, though Shlemenko's forward pressure, takedowns, and ground-and-pound would leave the strongest impression, and after an entertaining 15 minutes he was awarded the unanimous decision.
Watch Shlemenko vs. Enomoto here. I came away pretty impressed Enomoto, who normally fights at welterweight.
Also on the card, former UFC middleweight Xavier Foupa-Pokam (29-20, 0-2 UFC) survived a tough first round against Magomed Magomedov (5-2-0), in which he was mounted and threatened with both a triangle choke and an armbar, the latter attempt being curiously interrupted by an impatient referee. "Professor X" would turn things around in the second, punishing Magomedov in the clinch and with ground-and-pound. An exhausted Magomedov, who was at one point in the round bent over with his hands on his knees, and who needed his cornermen to help him to his stool, couldn't answer the bell for Round 3, giving Foupa-Pokam the TKO victory.
Foupa-Pokam vs. Magomedov can be seen here.