Japanese MMA icon Hidehiko Yoshida is scheduled to face long time student and teammate Kazuhiro Nakamura in his highly anticipated retirement fight at the April 25th ASTRA event at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Japan.
The former Olympic Judo gold medalist, who holds notable victories over Don Frye, Mark Hunt and Maurice Smith, is coming into the match fresh of a unanimous decision nod over Satoshi Ishii at “K-1 Dynamite!!” on New Year’s Eve 2009. Despite an overall professional record of 9-7-1, Yoshida has garnered a huge fan base in Japan, due in part to the level of competition he’s faced throughout his career, including his two epic battles with Wanderlei Silva, the world’s best 205 pounder at the time.
“For me, Nakamura is not an easy opponent and I have somewhat difficult feelings about it in my heart, but I can’t lose this fight” said Yoshida.
Nakamura, a Yoshida Dojo standout and veteran of Pride and the UFC, sports a career record of 13-10-0, with victories over the likes of Kevin Randleman, Yuki Kondo and Igor Vovchanchyn.
“Ever since Astra was announced, I’ve been thinking about Mr. Yoshida and me fighting” said Nakamura, “I’m wondering now if I really can bring myself to punch him full in the face, but it’s really complicated.”
The event also features a couple of bona fide giant killers in Enson Inoue, who defeated Randy Couture via a first round arm-bar back in 1998, and Ryo Chonan, who’s flying scissor heel-hook had pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva tapping for mercy in 2004.
The Full ASTRA Fight Card includes:
Hidehiko Yoshida vs. Kazuhiro Nakamura
Ryo Chonan vs. Jung Hwan Cha
Daisuke Nakamura vs. Ganjo Tentsuku
Jorge Masvidal vs. Naoyuki Kotani
Enson Inoue vs. Antz Nansen
Michihiro Omigawa vs. Micah Miller
Che Mills vs. Yuya Shirai
Tatsunao Nagakura vs. Akihiko Mori