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When Don Frye And Yoshihiro Takayama Fought In 'Manliest MMA Fight Ever'

When Don Frye And Yoshihiro Takayama Fought In 'Manliest MMA Fight Ever'

Don Frye & Yoshihiro Takayama once fought in a contest dubbed 'the manliest MMA fight ever'.

UFC Hall of Famer Frye faced off against pro wrestler Takayama in now-defunct Japanese promotion PRIDE back in 2002 and they brutalised one another.


The contest resembled a hockey fight rather than an MMA bout and the duo swung for the fences on the way to Frye picking up a first round win.

Check out the fight below.

The staredown that the two fighters share before the bell rings shows the intensity that's about to follow.

The fight begins with both men holding one another in striking range as they brawl into the corner.


Takayama comes off the worse in the exchange in comparison to Frye but he refuses to back down.

Punches then stop for a brief moment until the fighters go back at it much to the Saitama Super Arena crowd's delight.

Takayama begins to unload knees into Frye's midsection and gets him to the ground before unleashing a huge knee to the temple.

However, Frye refuses to loosen his grip on the former New Japan Pro Wrestling star and they continue their striking battle.

Referee Yuji Shimada eventually separates the two as blood pours down Frye's face and Takayama's facial features look permanently rearranged.

As the duo get ready to resume their contest, the commentator can be heard exclaiming 'here we go again'.

Image Credit: PRIDE
Image Credit: PRIDE

They did go again, but Takayama would go on to make a costly mistake.

While holding Frye in the corner, the former IWGP Heavyweight Champion tried to take him down to the mat.

The more experienced Frye countered and ended up on top of Takayama, and begun to ground and pound until he was awarded victory via TKO.

Both warriors bowed their hands and Takayama raised Frye's hand as a show of respect post-fight.

Their contest won 'Fight of the Year' from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter in 2002 and it's gone down as one of MMA's most brutal battles.

YouTube commenters have also dubbed it 'the manliest fight in MMA history' in addition to 'BEAUTIFUL!!! Everything about this fight is beautiful. The intensity, the heart, the drive, and the respect at the end by both men.'

That respect would be carried on 15 years later after Takayama was tragically paralysed following a wrestling match.

Image Credit: PRIDE
Image Credit: PRIDE

Per The Mac Life, Frye released an emotional statement paying respect to his rival:

"Takayama-san. God gave me the greatest opponent anybody could ever ask for," Frye said. "You made the greatest fight the world has ever seen.

You are the reason that our fight beat the world cup of soccer head to head on TV. You are the image of Bushido, and strength, and triumph. You are the first person anyone asks about when they meet me. You are the warrior we all want to be."

It's clear to see the respect that the two gained for each other following their war will never waver.

Featured Image Credit: PRIDE

Topics: MMA

Daniel Marland

Daniel is a freelancer journalist for SPORTbible and covers a variety of sports. He also has past experience of working at Manchester United and once locked eyes with Jose Mourinho. He lived to tell the tale.


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