Possibly. And we won't get to see it.
There was a time, not too long ago, when Norifumi Yamamoto was considered to be far-and-away the world's best fighter under 155 pounds. His star-making run in K-1's MMA shows from 2004-2007 featured Kid savagely knocking out fighters like Caol Uno, Royler Gracie, Rani Yahya, and most famously, Kazuyuki Miyata in just 4 seconds. Yamamoto hasn't been the same since he returned to competition last year following a knee injury layoff, and has dropped back-to-back decisions against Joe Warren and Masanori Kanehara. Still, we weren't expecting this recent news from MMAFighting:
Japanese star Kid Yamamoto is expected to make his Strikeforce debut on May 15 against Federico Lopez. The fight is not officially signed, but sources say it is close. The fight would be contested at 135 pounds. As of right now, the fight isn't expected to air on Showtime.
FYI, Federico Lopez is a 4-2 Team Quest product who has lost his last two matches. I only have one question: You kiddin' me? While promoting Yamamoto in the U.S. has its share of challenges — Strikeforce's lack of a bantamweight division, for one thing — Yamamoto is a true legend, and one of the biggest MMA stars that Japan has ever produced. Recent losses aside, Yamamoto would still have great value in the hands of the right promoter. At the very least, why wouldn't you have him headline a "Challengers" event, instead of sticking him on the dark portion of "Heavy Artillery"? (I still wouldn't trust Showtime to show his fight between/after main card bouts, UFC-style.) Will Strikeforce be able to convince casual fans why Kid Yamamoto matters? After the jump: The tentative lineup that Yamamoto may be getting lost in...
5/15's lineup looks like this, and it's tentative:
Alistair Overeem vs. Brett Rogers (SF Heavyweight Title)
Andrei Arlovski vs. Antonio Silva
Ronaldo Souza vs. Joey Villasenor*
Roger Gracie vs. Kevin Randleman*
Vitor Ribeiro vs. Lyle Beerbohm or Mitsuhiro Ishida*
Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto vs. Federico Lopez*
Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante vs. Antwain Britt*
Jesse Finney vs. Justin DeMoney
Fransisco France vs. Lee Brousseau
Mike Chandler vs. Sal Woods
Pat Benson vs. Erik Steenberg
Matt Ricehouse vs. Tom Aaron
Booker DeRousse vs. Darryl Cobb
*-Reported as likely or possible but not officially announced by Strikeforce yet.
(CP as usual)
The way I see it, this is really the last chance for Kid to salvage his career. He's never been the same since the injury.