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Characters / Universal Wrestling Federation RINGS

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"RINGS is always modest about their fighters' non-pro competitions including the credentials of several Olympic athletes but it is well-known that they are all real world class elite athletes which gives them a lot of credibility."
Dave Meltzer about RINGS at The Wrestling Observer Newsletter, February 17, 1997.

As a whole

  • Action Survivor: Even if you see RINGS representatives losing MMA fights, you will be hard-pressed to find any of them getting actually finished (unless you are watching Valentijn Overeem or Yoshihisa Yamamoto, that is). The most technical, like Kohsaka, Han and Kopylov, were almost impossible to submit or KO.
  • Author Appeal: As stated by Dave Meltzer above, RINGS brought in a lot of real world class elite athletes which gave them a lot of credibility as a combat sport. Their success in the ring was a mixed bag, with some like RINGS Russia's Fedor Emelianenko (who was a world medalist in combat sambo) dominated the promotion in his short time there, while others like RINGS Russia's Suren Balachinsky (who actually beat Fedor in sambo competition twice) had one fight in RINGS, lost it and left right after.
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  • Badass Crew: Its fighters did significantly well with the MMA format against world-class opponents in the King of Kings tournaments, while Pancrase and UWF-i mostly failed at doing the same in UFC and PRIDE aside from individual exceptions.
  • Bushido Index: For some reason RINGS Lithuania events always had the words Bushido as part of their sub-headings.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Their logo was dark red, like Akira Maeda's colour motif. However, they were also known for their blue ring mat.
    • The first four RINGS stables had colour coded tracksuits, black for the Japanese, green for the Dutch, orange for the Russians, and purple for the Georgians. When RINGS Bulgaria was established, they switched the colors around a bit, the Japanese switched to blue, the Dutch became purple, Russia became red, Georgia became black, and Bulgaria got green. They eventually abandoned the concept when the other stables came in.
  • Cool Crown: Winners of the Battle Dimensions Tournament were rewarded with a Golden Chaplet/Laurel Wreath.
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  • Cosmopolitan Council: One that featured representatives of each branch: Akira Maeda from Japan, Chris Dolman from Holland, Vladimir Pagodin from Russia, Nodar Ekvtimishvili from Georgia, Nikola Zahariev from Bulgaria, Chris Haseman from Australia, Lee Hasdell from England, Monte Cox from USA, Donatas Simanaitis from Lithuania, and some unspecified others.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Ground-and-pound and any type of striking to a grounded opponent due to Maeda feeling that it not safe. Technically punches to the body on the ground was allowed, just not at full force until the KOK rules.
  • Darker and Edgier: While Lighter and Softer compared to other MMA rules due to banning ground-and-pound, RINGS used a ruleset called "King of Kings" rules (usually shortened to "RINGS KOK" rules) that during its last years where they allowed fingerless gloves for head punches (they were also allowed to forgo gloves and stick to the shootfighting palm strikes to the face limit) and shin guards were no longer mandatory.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Zigzagged, starting in the mid-90s, fighters could opt to either wear shoes or not, though they still had to wear shin guards until the change to KOK rules. Their kickboxing matches also allowed fighters to wear shoes and shinguards.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first RINGS shows promoted their matches based on the 4 elements such as Fire Bout, Water Bout, Earth Bout, and Air Bout, as well as other bizzare elements like Universe Bout, Aqua Bout, Thunder Bout, Astral Bout, and Breathe Bout before dropping them in mid-1992.
    • RINGS was notorious for banning ground-and-pound and any type of striking to a grounded opponent, but before the first rules changes it still used the rules established in Newborn which didn’t say anything about doing so. Early RINGS matches had several of the Dutch fighters use it to their advantage.
    • They also once allowed limited elbow strikes, provided they put on elbow pads.
  • Faction Motto: Unofficial, but Akira Maeda frequently stated, "Sekai saikyo no otoko wa RINGS ga kimeru rashii!" ("RINGS will declare the strongest man in the world!")
  • Follow the Leader: Like Pancrase, RINGS created a special ruleset in the late 1990s, which they dubbed "Vale Tudo rules" which was basically the UFC's rules in the mid-1990s.
  • Glass Cannon: A glaring problem among the fighters in RINGS Holland, with a few exceptions, is despite having either excellent striking or submission offense or even both, was their laughably weak submission defense and they usually reached for the ropes in a panic when a hold was locked on them. Granted they weren’t the only fighters with this problem in RINGS, but most of the ones that were around since the beginning never seemed to improve that part of their game.
  • Guest Fighter: Aside from the RINGS branches, the promotion also used fighters from other gyms and organisations like Seidokaikan, Submission Arts Wrestling, Shootboxing, Wajutsu Keishukai, and many others.
  • Gratuitous English: Newborn’s Kick, Submission & Suplex wording on their logo was changed to Kick, Jointhold & Suplex, which was featured on the old RINGS Japan tracksuits.
  • Handwraps of Awesome: For some reason, fighters were allowed to wear them here while the other promotions never used them. The most notable examples were wore by RINGS Holland guys like Dick Vrij.
  • Insistent Terminology: Called their kickboxing matches, “Glove Matches”.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Their staff looked more like the cast of a martial arts manga, with big Kickboxing bullies, crazy Sambo technicians, hairy karatekas and inscrutable Japanese wrestlers, but they were arguably the widest MMA talent pool among the UWF offshoots.
  • Mighty Whitey: Like Pancrase, RINGS is well known for their foreign talent and some of them dominated the promotion like the guys from RINGS Holland, RINGS Russia, Dan Henderson from America, etc.
  • Minored In Ass Kicking: Volk Han and RINGS also helped establish the Japan Command Sambo Federation. It closed down with RINGS in 2002, but came back in 2012 when Maeda launched The Outsider. RINGS also sponsored the World Sambo Championships held in Tokyo in 1996.
  • The Missing Faction: RINGS Korea, it only had one member when it was formed in 1994 and quickly disappeared after that member's one appearance in RINGS Japan. It was briefly resurrected in 2005, but disappeared almost as quickly.
    • There was also the short-lived RINGS Oregon dojo run by former Shooto fighter Takashi Nishizawa before RINGS USA became a thing. They only had one representative fighter in Michael Stam, who didn’t have much success.
  • Multinational Team: Had the most diverse cast out of all the U-System.
  • Party of Representatives: RINGS was divided in branches from all around the world. RINGS' system was largely much inspired by organizations such as the National Wrestling Alliance and FIFA World Cup, and featured fighters from different countries organized into stables. We had RINGS Japan (a small team of native shoot wrestlers), RINGS Holland (a clan of Dutch kickboxers and freefighters from the Jon Bluming lineage), RINGS Russia (an union of Sambo (and a few Judo) champions from the former USSR, with a later addition of a small team of Russian Kyokushin fighters), RINGS Georgia (random wrestling and other martial arts champions from Georgia), RINGS Bulgaria (similar structure to RINGS Georgia), RINGS Korea (solely represented by Taekwondo champion Kim Lee Klin and notably got shut down after his one fight in RINGS), RINGS Australia (jiu-jitsu students under Mark and Chris Haseman), RINGS UK (a sort of grassroots movement among martial arts gyms headed by Lee Hasdell), RINGS USA (fighters under Miletich Fighting Systems and others managed by Monte Cox), RINGS Brazil (young bloods from future legendary MMA teams), RINGS Lithuania (a collection of various martial arts clubs under Donatas Simanaitis), RINGS France (a small team of fighters from Cyrille Diabaté's French Konnection and his Snake Team school) and some other minor branches.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: They were formed by fighters and martial artists who had barely a clue about pro wrestling, which can be noted in the overall quality of the matches, but there were some very gifted people among them.
  • Red Boxing Gloves: In the mid-90s, aside from the kickboxing bouts, fighters could opt to fight with these in the shoot style matches. Guys like Tony Halme and Maurice Smith were notable examples.
  • Some Call Me "Tim": Some of the fighters, usually from RINGS Russia and Georgia, get this treatment since some of their names can range from Overly-Long Name to The Unpronounceable. They usually use an animal name or a storm themed name in their their own language, though they were a few with an Odd Name Out. The most famous examples are Volk Han and Grom Zaza.
  • Special Guest: Chris Dolman's master Jon Bluming would appear on several RINGS Holland shows.
    • Chris Haseman's father Mark Haseman and his students would appear on the RINGS Australia shows to present Tohkon Ryu Ju Jitsu demonstrations as half-time entertainment.
    • For Akira Maeda's retirement show, his trainers Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Antonio Inoki, and Kotetsu Yamamoto, his UWF peers Nobuhiko Takada and Kazuo Yamazaki, his New Japan peers Junji Hirata (aka Super Strong Machine) and Animal Hamaguchi (who came before for his student, Wataru Sakata’s debut), his old opponent Don Nakaya Nielson, and for some reason Genichiro Tenryu.
  • Spin-Off: The official one is RINGS: The Outsider, that was made for Maeda's later students. Unofficial ones include Kiyoshi Tamura's U-FILE and the MMA promotion HERO'S.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Between RINGS Bulgaria, Georgia, and Russia. Their fighters often cornered each other in their matches. May have something to do with their countries being all part of the former Soviet Union and spoke similar languages, and some fans even refer to their relation as “RINGS Soviet Union”, which is kind of a Mythology Gag since RINGS Russia was originally called RINGS Soviet since Volk Han’s first match was just before the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
  • Thug Dojo: RINGS Holland had a lot of guys that liked to play dirty in their fights. It was pretty much advertised as part of their charm in Japan.
  • Tournament Arc: Held the most well known tournaments out of all the U-System, the yearly Mega Battle Tournaments that evolved into the King of Kings Tournaments, the Light Heavyweight, Middleweight and Openweight Championship Tournaments to crown the first champions of the promotion, the two RINGS USA Tournaments, and finally the Absolute Class Tournament of 2001.

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    RINGS Australia 

    RINGS Brazil 

Academia Alliance
THE Most Successful BJJ Team Ever

Leonardo Castello Branco

Fábio Gurgel

  • The Apprentice: To Romero "Jacaré" Cavalcanti and was his first black belt. He also trained under Carlson Gracie Sr for his Vale Tudo and MMA fights.
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: Is the President of the Professional League of Jiu-Jitsu.
  • Badass Family / Bash Brothers: His older brother Fernando Gurgel is also a BJJ black belt, competitor, and coach.
  • Badass Teacher: Was a co-founder of Academia Alliance, head of his branch in Sao Paulo, and a good fighter himself.
  • Big Little Brother: Was a lot bigger than his older brother Fernando, who is nicknamed “Magrão”, which means lanky, or tall and skinny.
  • Elite Four: With Romero “Jacaré” Cavalcanti, Alexandre Paiva, and his brother Fernando Gurgel as the founders of Academia Alliance.
  • I Know Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Was a black belt since he was 19 and is now a 6th degree black belt with a Brazilian national, a Pan American, 3 European and 4 World Championships under his belt.
  • The Nicknamer: Gave Fernando Pontes his nickname; “Margarida”.
  • Non-Action Guy: Didn’t compete in RINGS, he was a cornerman for his fighters from Academia Alliance.
  • Red Baron: "The General", "The Unmerciful".
  • The Worf Effect: Was worfed by Jerry Bohlander at UFC 11 and Mark Kerr at World Vale Tudo Championship 3.

Roberto Traven

  • A Day in the Limelight: His major achievement in MMA was winning the IAFC 2 Day 1 Tournament.
  • The Apprentice: To Romero "Jacaré" Cavalcanti, Alexandre “Gigi” Paiva, Fabio and Fernando Gurgel.
  • Cool Teacher: Has his own BJJ team and academy.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Won his fights in the IAFC 2 show in less than 3 minutes each.
  • Guest Fighter: From Academia Alliance.
  • Hero Killer: Beat Hayato Sakurai for the 1999 ADCC Absolute Division Championship and has beaten John Machado and Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira at the 1998 and 1999 World Jiu-Jitsu Championships (Mundials) +100 kg division respectively.
  • I Know Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: A 6th degree black belt, national, world and world master champion as well as the 1999 ADCC Absolute Division Champion. He also trained in Luta Livre under Roberto Leitao and at Ruas Vale Tudo for MMA.
  • Red Baron: "Spider".
  • The Worf Effect: Got armbared by Frank Mir at UFC 34 in about a minute into the fight and also got KO'ed by Elvis Sinosic and John Salter. He also got outscored by Jeff Monson in the semifinals of the 1999 ADCC +99kg Division tournament, beaten by Mario Sperry in their ADCC Super Fight, crushed by Tom Erickson in the first round of the 2001 ADCC +99kg tournament, beaten by Mario Cruz in first round of the 2001 ADCC Absolute Division tournament, and got triangled by Jefferson Moura in the 2003 World Jiu-Jitsu Championships (Mundials) -94 kg Division semifinals.

Brazilian Top Team
The Creontes of Carlson Gracie

Ricardo Arona

"When I arrived at Carlson Gracie's gym at 16 years old, I already wanted to fight in MMA, and one of my specialties was taking my opponent down, striking him and hurting him from that position. This was cut from MMA when I went to fight in Japan. In the UFC, you can use the cage, which is perfect for me, because once you have your opponent in the corner, there's no escape; it's excellent to use to get the takedown. Once on the ground, it's perfect for striking; it's fatal. With those rules, I guess the referee will have to stop a lot of my fights quickly, because my great strong point is striking from above, from any position. The third factor I see is that anyone in the ring who gets tired in five minutes is in the wrong place. I'm accustomed to fighting one 10-minute round and two five-minute rounds. In the UFC, it's three five-minute rounds, which is like child's play for me. I'm flying in and out with that time. I wouldn't even stop to wipe my forehead. The UFC rules were made for me — no doubt about it."
— Ricardo Arona, on how he would do in UFC, even though he ended up retiring and never fighting there.

  • The Ace: He is undefeated in submission wrestling with 13-0 and has never lost a point in a match.
  • The Apprentice: To Carlson Gracie.
  • Blood Knight: If only RINGS had allowed ground-and-pound, he would have had a lot of fun.
  • Boring, but Practical: His style was based around holding down and controlling his opponent. Only when the rules allowed him to rain punches the thing got more exciting.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Famously raked Kazushi Sakuraba's cuts in an attempt to deepen them to get a cheap win by stoppage. While not exactly illegal, it was considered a very low life technique.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Won his RINGS debut against aging Sambo champion Andrei Kopylov by unanimous decision after controlling him positionally for most of the match and once threw Kopylov like a rag doll with a double leg takedown.
  • Guest Fighter: From Brazilian Top Team.
  • Heroic Build: Ripped to the bones.
  • Hero Killer: He went to defeat both Kazushi Sakuraba and Wanderlei Silva, both considered as invincible and heroes to their respective people, in PRIDE. Also beat Mark Kerr, Tito Ortiz, Jeff Monson, Vitor Belfort, and Jean Jacques Machado in ADCC as well as Andrei Kopylov, Jeremy Horn, Gustavo Machado, Dan Henderson, Guy Mezger, and Alistar Overeem in MMA (Hiromitsu Kanehara in both).
  • I Know Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: A three time ADCC gold medalist. He also knows Karate, Judo and a bit of Capoeira.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Back in 2000's ADCC, Arona was involved in an illegal slap fest with Karimula Barkalaev, Abu Dhabi's Judo and Sambo instructor, it was rumoured that the incident got the latter disqualified, but the video of their match shows that they calmed down and continued the match. However, the incident supposedly got completely off hands when the Sheik in charge, who was a personal fan of Arona, was offended by this and ordered his security men to pull Barkalaev away after the match. The poor guy supposedly spent a week in jail, locked up and blindfolded, until they could stuff him on a plane and send him to his country. Even worse, there is a rumor in Brazil which says that the guards were actually readying to shoot Karimula in the head and Arona himself had to plead them to spare him. These statements were never verified, but what is certain is that Karimula said he would never return to Abu Dhabi, as his presence was no longer pleasing to the Sheikh.
  • Red Baron: "The Brazilian Tiger", "The Brazilian Volcano", "Jujutsu Oji" ("The Prince of Jiu-Jitsu"), "Hijo no Newaza O" ("The Heartless King of Groundfighting").
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Subverted - he was strong and skilled, both in high quantities, which gave him a huge advantage over the average ADCC player.
  • The Worf Effect: His lost to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson by powerbomb and his KO lose to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
  • Worf Had the Flu: He claims he suffered from a dengue hemorrhagic fever going into his fight against Sokoudjou at PRIDE 34 and because of it, he was knocked out by Sokoudjou in just under 2 minutes.

Carlos Barreto

"Your opinion of Carlos Barreto's career will vary wildly based on how deeply you look into his record. He was by no means unsuccessful, sporting nine years of competition, a dominant record in his prime and two championships, but he's another of those fighters that couldn't get it done on the main stage despite having all of the tools. He was a BJJ black belt under Bolao Souza, he'd been practicing muay thai since his youth, and at 6'4" he was a bonafide heavyweight and far more well-rounded than most of his competition, but his regional success never translated to the spotlight: When the cameras weren't watching he destroyed Pedro Otavio and Kevin Randleman and even knocked out a young Ben Rothwell, but his only victory on the national circuit was a skin-of-his-teeth corner stoppage against Tra Telligman. He fought until just shy of his 37th birthday and retired when his leg imploded twenty-five seconds into a fight. None of this downplays his legacy—he was a historically important fighter and one of the first well-rounded heavyweights, and has an enormous amount to be proud of. It's just one of those cases where you wonder if, had he been born a decade later, had access to different training, had circumstances been just a touch different, he could have been a star."
— A profile of Barreto from a Fire Pro Wrestling user CarlCX from

  • The Apprentice: To Sergio “Bolão” Souza and Carlson Gracie.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The co-founder and head fighter and coach of Team Black House (Casa Preta) before his retirement. He also first founded the Tough Brothers team when he separated from Carlson Gracie
  • Combat Commentator / Combat Referee: He has played these roles after he retired from fighting.
  • Guest Fighter: From Brazilian Top Team.
  • Hero Killer: Has beaten guys like Mikhail Ilyukhin, John Dixson, Geza Kalman, Kevin Randleman, Paul Varelans, Branden Lee Hinkle, Gary Myers, Tra Telligman, Bobby Hoffman, Ben Rothwell, etc.
  • I Know Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: A 5th degree black belt, won a world championship as a brown belt. He also knows Muay Thai.
  • Red Baron: "Carlão", "Kumo Otoko" ("Spider Man").
  • Scary Black Man
  • Ur-Example: Was the first man to wear a blue gi/kimono at an official BJJ event.
  • The Worf Effect: Lost his first match in the 2000 King of Kings Tournament to Chris Haseman. He also lost by unanimous decision to Dave Beneteau at UFC 15, Ian Freeman at HOO Kn SHOOT Kings 1, and Alexander Emelianenko at the M-1 MFC: Middleweight GP. He also lost by split decision to Igor Vovchanchyn, got KO'ed by Gilbert Yvel, and TKO'ed by Vladimir Matyushenko.

Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira

"Minotauro is a very logical fighter. He thinks very deeply about what he is doing. He does an explosive move, and thinks, then does an explosive move again, and thinks, and then he waits calmly for his opponent to make a mistake."
— Ricardo Arona

  • Always Identical Twins: With his brother Antônio Rogério "Minotouro" Nogueira. The way to tell them apart is that Little Nog is lighter in weight and shorter in height, and by the presence of a scar on Big Nog's lower back.
  • The Apprentice: To Luiz Carlos Dórea, Ricardo de la Riva, Guilherme Assad, Murilo Bustamante, Ricardo Libório, Mário Sperry and Luis Roberto Duarte.
  • Badass Family: His brother Antônio Rogério "Minotouro" Nogueira is a 3rd degree BJJ black belt and MMA fighter in his own right.
  • Bash Brothers: With his twin brother Antônio Rogério "Minotouro" Nogueira. They were known in Japan as "Rio no Kansetsu Sōseiji" ("Rio’s Joint Twins") And "Saikyō Jūjutsu Tsuinzu"("The Strongest Jiu-Jitsu Twins").
  • Defeat Means Friendship: After losing to Dan Henderson at the finals of King of Kings Tournament 1999 in a controversial decision, Dan sent a pack of beers to his dresser.
  • Guest Fighter: From Brazilian Top Team.
  • Hero Killer: He trampled everybody in RINGS: Overeem, Han, Tamura, Kanehara, and almost Kohsaka.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Anderson Silva.
  • I Know Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: And also Judo and boxing.
  • Made of Iron: The guy was just indestructible. Not only he got powerbombed and piledriven by Bob Sapp without flinching a bit, but he was also driven over by a truck at age 10 and healed after seven months in which doctors believed he would die sooner or later.
  • Name's the Same: Aside from their surname their mother first named both Nogueira brothers after their father Antônio.
  • Red Baron: "Minotauro", "Jiu-Jitsu Magician", "Rio no Shizuma nu Taiyo" ("The Sun which Sets in Rio de Janeiro"), "Sen no Waza o Motsu Otoko" ("The Man of A Thousand Holds").

Renzo Gracie Combat Team
Impossible Is Nothing

Sean Alvarez

  • The Apprentice: To Nelson Monteiro and Renzo Gracie.
  • Big Applesauce: Is from New York City.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Fought Yoji Anjo at The U-Japan Super Fighting '96 before his fights in RINGS in 1997 and 1999.
  • Expy: He seems to have one strangely in Ricardo Arona, as both have very noticeable Heroic Build's, and while Sean is a 3 time silver medalist in the ADCC, Ricardo is a 3 time gold medalist in the ADCC.
  • Guest Fighter: From Renzo Gracie Combat Team.
  • Hero Killer: Beat Yoji Anjo, Willie Peeters, and Wataru Sakata.
  • Heroic Build: Look at him.
  • Hidden Depths: Worked in real estate development in Mexico after he retired from fighting.
  • I Know Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: A world champion, Pan American champion and a 3 time silver medalist in the ADCC championships.
  • Red Baron: "The Poker Brat".
  • Spell My Name with an S: RINGS spelt his name as Sean Alvares.
  • The Worf Effect: Was KO'd by Oleg Taktarov in less than a minute. He also got KO'ed by Eric Pele and TKO'ed by Wesley Correira.

Renzo Gracie

"A boxer is like a lion, the greatest predator on land, but you throw him in the shark tank and he's just another meal."

  • Always Someone Better: He was defeated by Kazushi Sakuraba in an MMA match and years later with a more beaten down Sakuraba in a Metamoris match he could only get a draw against him.
  • The Apprentice: To Carlos Gracie Jr.
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: His name is on the team name.
  • Badass Family: To MMA fans his family name says it all.
  • Badass Teacher: Owns his own school, the Renzo Gracie Academy, and has trained names like Matt Serra, Ricardo Almeida, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Georges St-Pierre, Chris Weidman, Frankie Edgar, Roy Nelson, Gunnar Nelson, Joe D'Arce, etc.
  • Bash Brothers: With his brothers Ralph and Ryan.
  • Bouncer: Was a bouncer at a whorehouse in the Amazon at the Improbable Age of 14.
  • Bullying a Dragon: His first opponent at the World Combat Championship, Dutch judoka Ben Spijkers, taunted Renzo in the press conference and pranked him in his hotel room the previous night. Renzo would choke him out and after the bout, he intentionally stepped on Spijkers's head as he walked away as an act of revenge for the pranking, an act Renzo later apologized for.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: His exhibition grappling match at Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2000 with Antonio Inoki.
  • Dramatic Dislocation: Got his arm dislocated in his fight with Kazushi Sakuraba.
  • Drugs Are Bad: He claimed to have been drugged by PRIDE promoters before his fight with Sanae Kikuta to explain his poor performance in that fight.
  • Graceful Loser: Even after getting his arm dislocated, Renzo took the mic after the match and declared Sakuraba was the better man. Similarly, years later Gracie called Sakuraba "his hero" and remembered their match as "one of the biggest lessons he learned in his life".
  • Guest Fighter: From Renzo Gracie Combat Team.
  • Hero Killer: Has defeated guys like Oleg Taktarov, Sanae Kikuta, Alexander Otsuka, Wataru Sakata, Maurice Smith and Carlos Newton. His win over Frank Shamrock was fortuitous because Frank got disqualified by kneeing Renzo on the ground.
  • I Know Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: His family basically remade old school Judo into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he himself a 6th degree black belt. He is also a black belt in Judo and also had training in boxing, Kickboxing and amateur wrestling.
  • Jack of All Stats: Is described as the most all rounded MMA fighter in the Gracie family.
  • Keet: Is described as being this, especially when compared to his brothers and cousins.
  • Nice Guy: Described as the nicest of his generation of Gracie cousins.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Though not really his fault, he fought against Luta Livre fighter Eugenio Tadeu at the Pentagon Combat event, during which audience members pushed their way through security staff and grabbed the very cage, screaming insults to the fighters and even attacking them through the netting whenever they came near. The situation exploded when Renzo fought back one of his attackers, causing a massive brawl to erupt among the over 400 spectators. Audience members threw chairs and seats to each other, the lights were turned off, and gunshots were heard. The event caused mixed martial arts to be banned in Rio de Janeiro for ten years.
  • Red Baron: "Shinka-kei no Gracie Jiu-Jitsu" ("The Evolution of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu")
  • Screwed by the Network: Has claimed this against the Pride promoters.
    • His claim of being drugged by them before his fight with Sanae Kikuta.
    • His decision lost against Shungo Oyama, which he believes he lost the decision only because he spat on Oyama, which he did because Oyama had taunted him all throughout the bout.
    • He also disputed his split decision loss to Carlos Newton in Pride, but he later got his revenge via split decision in a rematch in the International Fight League promotion, though in an interesting twist he felt Newton was the winner of that bout.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: With his brothers Ralph and Ryan, they were both quick-tempered and at times just mean-spirited, Renzo on the other hand was described as quick to laugh, friendly, and an indefatigable bundle of energy.
  • The Worf Effect: Lost to Dan Henderson by knockout in just under two minutes.

Adilson Lima

  • Always Someone Better: Beaten twice by Igor Vovchanchyn on the same night.
  • The Apprentice: To Geny Rebello, Carlos Gracie Jr, Carlos Rollyson, and Renzo Gracie.
  • Badass Family: His wife Ursula Lima is also a BJJ black belt.
  • Badass Teacher: Founder of Pitbull Clube de Jiu Jitsu & MMA in Teresópolis, Brazil where he trained world champion BJJ stylists and MMA fighters.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: His vale-tudo career was stopped short when a motorcycle accident almost ripped one of Adilson’s feet off. His foot was reattached but Lima could never compete inside a cage again.
  • Guest Fighter: From the Renzo Gracie Combat Team.
  • Handicapped Badass: After his injury above he continued competing in BJJ competitions with the aid of a foot support.
  • Hero Killer: Beat Mikhail Ilyukhin, Yoshihisa Yamamoto, and Alexander Fedorov.
  • I Know Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: A Brazilian, European and World champion.
  • Red Baron: "Bitta". Adilson earned the name as a toddler. His family owned goats, which are called “cabra” or “cabrita” in Portuguese. When Adilson was an infant, he couldn’t say “cabrita” properly, shortening it to “bita” (bitta). His brothers found it so funny, they started calling him Bita and from their the name was how he became recognized.

Ricardo Morais

"Ricardo Morais is not an inexperienced or unaccomplished fighter. The 6'8" teacher-proclaimed Mutant trained BJJ under Renzo Gracie before starting his MMA career, which began in the first Absolute Fighting Championship Tournament—which, to be clear, was one of those insane, old-school barely-any-rules bareknuckle vale tudo tournaments where you fight five times in one night and Igor Vovchanchyn lost because someone was trying to gouge one of his eyes out with their chin. Morais won the tournament by choking out the guy who did it. He had enough succes to make it to Pride with an 8-1-1 record as an accomplished, dangerous heavyweight prospect. Then he got ragdolled by Mark Coleman, outgrappled by Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, and in the only thing anyone now remembers him for, knocked completely cold by Aleks Emelianenko in about fifteen seconds. No matter what else happens in your fighting career, if you get knocked stone dead on an international broadcast and don't pay it back to someone else, that's probably what will define you. Sorry, Ricardo. If it's any consolation, you still look terrifying."
— A profile of Morais from a Fire Pro Wrestling user CarlCX from

Ruas Vale Tudo & Academia Budokan
They Own The Streets
The Luta Livre Budokan

Carlos Clayton

Alexandre Ferreira

"I want to be the champion. I don't want to know who (to fight), I just want to know when."

  • The Apprentice: To Roberto Leitao, Roberto Leitao Filho, Joao Ricardo, Hugo Duarte, Marco Ruas, Roberto “Gordo” Correa, Murilo Bustamante, and Rudimar Fedrigo.
  • Cool Teacher: Has his own MMA gym and team, Alexandre Cacareco Team.
  • Guest Fighter: From Ruas Vale Tudo.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Retired from fighting after losing family and friends in the January 2011 Brazilian floods and mudslides, resulting in him being in "no condition to train or fight."
  • Hero Killer: Beat guys like Rodney Glunder, Heath Herring, Bob Schrijber, and Branden Lee Hinkle.
  • I Know Luta Livre: A 7th degree black belt under Hugo Duarte and also trained in Ruas Vale Tudo. He also learned a bit of Capoeira, is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, trained in freestyle wrestling, learned Muay Thai at the Chute Boxe Academy and later trained with Brazilian Top Team and the Gracie Barra Combat Team.
  • Red Baron: "Cacareco".
  • The Worf Effect: Was submitted by both Hiromitsu Kanehara and Chris Haseman.

Roberto Leitão

"He always said people might like fighting, but no one loves it more than him. And that’s true, he would always bring shorts with him everywhere he went. He was always ready in case he met someone and they were close to a gym. And if the other guy said he didn’t have shorts, he’d have a spare one so there would be no excuses. He loved training."
— Pedro Rizzo

  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Arguably to Yoshiaki Fujiwara as they are both considered the highest authority in their respective Catch Wrestling-based styles in their countries. They both also have artistic hobbies.
  • The Apprentice: To Agenor Moreira Sampaio aka Mestre Sinhozinho, Euclydes "Tatu" Hatem and to judokas Takeo Yano and Kengo Katayawa.
  • Badass Family: His son Roberto Leitao Filho (basically another way of writing Jr.) is a Luta Livre practitioner and coach and an Olympic level freestyle wrestler.
  • Badass Teacher: The most prolific trainer in Luta Livre. Every serious practitioner today has trained with him at some point in their lives.
  • Blood Knight: See the quote above.
  • Cool Old Guy: More than 80 years old and still spars with people at least a few decades younger than him and wipes the floor with them.
  • Cool Teacher: Was a university professor and also writes about martial arts and grappling.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Was in Marco Ruas’ corner for his UFC 7 fights.
  • Genius Bruiser: Holds a degree in mechanical engineering.
  • Hidden Depths: His hobby is abstract painting.
  • I Know Luta Livre: A 10th dan black belt. He was originally trained in Judo and is a 4th dan black belt. He also trained in Capoeira.
  • Old Master: The highest authority in Luta Livre today and was also fundamental in developing Brazil’s freestyle wrestling scene.
  • Non-Action Guy: Never fought in MMA, he was mostly a coach and cornerman.

Roberto Leitão Filho

  • Affectionate Nickname: Is called "Beto" to not confuse him for his father.
  • The Apprentice: To his father Roberto Leitao and Marco Ruas.
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: Is the superintendent of the Confederação Brasileira de Wrestling (Brazilian Confederation of Associated Wrestling)
  • Badass Family: Is the son of Luta Livre grandmaster Roberto Leitao.
  • Cool Teacher: Was a head coach for Ruas Vale Tudo and a long time coach of the Brazilian freestyle wrestling national teams.
  • He Also Did: Was in Marco Ruas’ video instructional videos by Panther Productions.
  • I Know Luta Livre: An 8th dan black belt. He also trained in Ruas Vale Tudo and was a Brazilian and South American Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling champion and Pan-American medalist, being one of the first to represent Brazil in international tournaments, the world championships, and most notably competed in 1988 and 1992 Olympics. He also competed in Brazilian Trials for the 2000 ADCC.
  • Non-Action Guy: Never fought in MMA, he was mostly a coach and cornerman.

Gustavo Machado

  • The Apprentice: To Roberto Leitao, Roberto Leitao Filho, Joao Ricardo, Marco Ruas, and Roberto “Gordo” Correa.
  • Badass Teacher: Has his own MMA school, Gustavo Ximu Vale Tudo.
  • Guest Fighter: From Ruas Vale Tudo.
  • Hero Killer: He has beaten guys like Wataru Sakata, Chris Haseman, KEI Yamamiya, Allan Goes and Kiyoshi Tamura.
  • I Can Still Fight!: He protested his KO loss to Ricardo Arona, claiming he was only knocked down but not out.
  • I Know Luta Livre: Learned at the Luta Livre Budokan Academy and at Ruas Vale Tudo. He is also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu 3rd degree black belt and trained at the Gracie Barra Combat Team and also trained in Judo, Capoeira, and is a Brazilian national champion in boxing and Muay Thai.
  • Name's the Same: Not to be confused with another BJJ black belt and trainer called Gustavo Machado, nicknamed "Guga".
  • Red Baron: "Ximu".
  • Unrelated Brothers: He is not a member of the Machado jiu-jitsu family, as his full name is Gustavo Machado da Silva. Some sites list him as Gustavo Ximu to further avoid confusion.
  • The Worf Effect: Was TKO'ed by Ricardo Arona by leg kicks and punches.

João Ricardo

  • The Apprentice: One of the first students of Roberto Leitao.
  • Badass Teacher: Co-founded the Luta Livre Academia Budokan, the most famous Luta Livre school in the world. His students include Marco Ruas, Luis Alvez, Renato Sobral, Gustavo Machado, Carlos Clayton, Alexandre Ferreira, Johil de Oliveira, Pedro Ovatio, Pedro Rizzo, Alexandre Nogueira, Hugo Duarte, Ebenezer Fontes Braga, Evangelista Santos, among many others.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Hilbernon de Oliveira, the father of Johil de Oliveira.
  • I Know Karate: Was originally a Shotokan karateka with a black belt before he switched to Luta Livre, he is now a 9th degree black belt, the second highest rank in the art.
  • Non-Action Guy: Was only a cornerman for his fighters in RINGS.
  • Old Master: Is considered a Luta Livre grandmaster.

Marco Ruas

"If they try to punch me and kick me, I throw them to the ground. If they try to throw me to the ground, I'll punch and kick."

  • Always Someone Better: Was beaten twice by Maurice Smith.
  • The Apprentice: One of the last students of Euclydes Hatem. He also trained under Fausto Brunocilla, Carlos Brunocilla, Roberto Leitao, Joao Ricardo, Oswaldo Alves, Flavio Molina, Luiz Alves, and Mestre Camisa.
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: His name is on the team name.
  • Badass Family: His father Vinícius Ruas is a judoka and trained Marco in judo.
  • Badass Teacher: Trained guys like Pedro Rizzo, Renato Babalu and Gustavo Ximu among many others.
  • Carpet of Virility
  • David Versus Goliath: Was outweighed by all his opponents at UFC 7. His first, Larry Cureton outweighed him by 40 pounds, his second, Remco Pardoel outweighed him by 50 pounds, and his third, Paul Varelans outweighed him by 120 pounds.
  • Establishing Character Moment: His dominant victories at UFC 7.
  • I Know Luta Livre: An 8th dan black belt and the man who brought it to the spotlight in his UFC appearances. He also trained in Capoeira, Muay Thai, is a 3rd dan black belt in Judo and a 1st dan black belt in Taekwondo, and is a Rio state boxing, and Greco-Roman wrestling champion. He also has an honorary Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Joe Moreira.
  • Jack of All Stats: One of the first complete fighters in MMA and is credited with popularizing cross-training in martial arts for MMA.
  • Non-Action Guy: He never actually fought or even appeared at a RINGS event. He just negotiated with Maeda to bring in his fighters.
  • Odd Friendship: With Joe Moreira.
  • Overly-Long Name: His full name is Marco Antônio de Lima Ruas.
  • Red Baron: "The King of The Streets", "Dan'nochūnodan" ("Man Among Men").
  • Screwed by the Network: Believes he got screw out of the decision win against Oleg Taktarov at the 1995 Ultimate Ultimate. He states that he got his revenge against Oleg at the World Vale Tudo Championships which ended in a draw, but was clearly the more dominanting fighter, though he shook hands with Oleg after the fight.
  • Start My Own: Created Ruas Vale Tudo, a fighting system that combined the elements of all the martial arts he trained in.
  • Unknown Rival: Has been calling for a fight with Rickson Gracie for years and even says he would come out of retirement for a chance to fight him. Rickson, of course just ignores him.
  • The Worf Effect: His fights with Maurice Smith and Alexander Otsuka.
  • Worf Had the Flu: After his upset loss to Alexander Otsuka, it was later revealed that Ruas fought under medication for hepatitis and a knee injury.

Renato Sobral

"I’ve been taking head shots since I was 11 years old."

  • Always Someone Better: Was beaten twice by Dan Henderson and Chuck Lidell.
  • The Apprentice: To Roberto Leitao, Roberto Leitao Filho, Luiz Alves, Joao Ricardo, Marco Ruas, and Roberto “Gordo” Correa.
  • Badass Teacher: Head Instructor of Babalu's Iron Gym Cerritos.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: A very strong fighter and once threw Mikhail Ilyukhin out of the ring with little effort.
  • Guest Fighter: From Ruas Vale Tudo.
  • Hero Killer: The guy was unstoppable, beating everybody at both King of Kings tournaments until he faced respectively Dan Henderson and Valentijn Overeem. He also defeated both Kiyoshi Tamura and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka via majority decision, as well as Hiromitsu Kanehara by unanimous decision.
  • I Know Luta Livre: Trained at Ruas Vale Tudo and the Luta Livre Budokan Academy. He also knew Freestyle wrestling and Muay Thai and was a champion in both, with him being a former member of the Brazilian Freestyle Wrestling National Team, is a 2nd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and trained with the Gracie Barra Combat Team.
  • The One Who Wears Shoes: Wore shoes in RINGS, despite his background where he would be used to fighting without them.
  • Red Baron: "Babalu", which is almost more famous than his actual last name. Apparently, his nickname comes from a brand of bubblegum he likes.
  • Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object: His fight with Tariel Bitsadze, which he won by armbar.

    RINGS Bulgaria 

Appeared in RINGS Japan
Unity Makes Strength

Kiril Barbutov

Alben Belinski

Valentin Davidov

  • Boxing Battler: Fought with boxing gloves on when possible.
  • Cool Teacher: President and boxing coach for Boks Klub Akademik.
  • I Know Boxing: A 10 time national champion, a two time Strandzha Cup champion, placed fifth in the 1993 World Amateur Boxing Championships, placed sixth in the 1994 European Championships, and also trained in Kickboxing.
  • Jobber

Sotir Gotchev

"In Bulgaria I’m number 1 in freestyle wrestling. I’ll also prove that I’m number 1 in Rings."

  • '80s Hair: Quite close to a full mullet.
  • I Know Freestyle Wrestling: A three time Bulgarian national champion, placed third in the 1988 European championships and was an alternate of the 1992 Olympic team. He also trained in Sambo and competed in amateur Sumo Wrestling.
  • Name's the Same: Not to be confused with another older Bulgarian wrestler of the same name.
  • Red Baron: "Maboroshi no Gorin Daihyō" ("Phantom Olympic Representative").
  • Spell My Name with an S: Gotchev or Gochev? His name also gets spelt as Sotel Kachiev for some reason and his first name is also spelt as Satir.
  • Suplex Finisher: Favoured using an assortment of suplexes, takedowns, throws and slams. He is probably best known for being able to legitimately do overhead belly-to-belly suplexes without cooperation.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: A pure wrestler with little skills in anything else. His throws and suplexes was excellent though.

Borislav Jeliazkov

"Jeliazkov knows nothing but wrestling, but he's very good at it, so his match could go either way."
— Dave Meltzer

  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": For some reason he is also known as Bobi Manekena in his hometown of Sofia, Bulgaria.
  • I Know Karate: A two time Bulgarian national champion, was part of the Bulgarian national team, and won international tournaments in Greece, Germany, and Macedonia.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Was the resident good looking kid of RINGS Bulgaria.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Was part of the Bulgarian team along with Dimitar Petkov and Todor Todorov for the World Mega Battle Tournament of 1998.
  • Spell My Name with an S: His name is sometimes spelt as Borislav Zhelyazkov.
  • The Unpronounceable
  • Unskilled, but Strong: A wrestler with rather basic submission skills.
  • Ur-Example: Was the first Bulgarian to officially fight in MMA.

Emil Krastev

Krassen Krastev

Tsvetan Pavlov

Dimitŭr Petkov

"Petkov, who is 6-3, 334, and looked like a monster next to Yamamoto, overpowered him, hit a belly-to-belly (real rare to see suplexes in RINGS nowadays) and got a necklock submission in 3:32. This left a "tired" giant against 206-pound Kanehara. As a story it was good since Kanehara looked like a well-conditioned mini against a Gulliver-like monster who was blown up."
— Dave Meltzer

Stefanov Petrov

Svilen Rusinov

  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: Was the captain of the Olympic Bulgarian boxing team. He was also a deputy mayor of his hometown of Teteven.
  • Boxing Battler: Fought with boxing gloves when possible.
  • Carpet of Virility
  • Hero Killer: Has a victory over Vitali Klitschko in his amateur days.
  • I Know Boxing: A Bulgarian amateur boxing national champion, was a multiple time medalist at the European and World Championships as well the World Cup, was a bronze medalist at the 1992 Olympics in the superheavyweight division and also competed in 1988 Olympics. He later had one professional boxing match which he won.
  • Real Name as an Alias: Was sometimes introduced with his middle name Aldinov instead of his first name.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Rusinov or Roussinov?

Mihail Simov

Todor Todorov

"Sambo is second to none!"

  • '80s Hair: A mullet. He did tie it up in a ponytail On occasion.
  • Alliterative Name
  • Cool Teacher: Is now a coach of Sports Club Lokomotiv Sofia Sambo - Judo.
  • Hidden Depths: Founded "Flights and Adventures" in 2013. It "adventures" such as paragliding, kayaking, horseback riding, and biking. He has also participated in horse riding competitions.
  • I Know Karate: A multiple time Bulgarian national champion in Judo and Sambo and also won gold and bronze medals at the 1992 European and World Sambo Championships respectively. He has also trained in amateur wrestling and later learned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
  • Leotard of Power: An amateur wrestling one.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Was part of the Bulgarian team along with Dimitar Petkov and Borislav Jeliazkov for the World Mega Battle Tournament of 1998.

Georgi Tonkov

"The opponent of Lee was Georgi Tonkov who is an active international class judoist from Bulgaria. RINGS Bulgaria places their hopes on the judo giant, it is rumored that they want to feature him as an ace of RINGS Bulgaria and to provide their own show in Bulgaria."
— Yoshi@Rising Flame, from a SFUK Submission Fighting UK forum dated 30th October 2001

  • Alternate Company Equivalent: To RINGS Georgia's David Khakhaleishvili as they were both stocky and successful judokas and sambists on the international level, were brought to RINGS to give their respective branches much needed star power and had very short runs in RINGS. They have faced each other in Sambo competition with Khakhaleishvili coming out on top. Both of them arguably had another one in RINGS Russia’s Suren Balachinsky.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Many consider him one of the most talented Bulgarian judoka and sambist ever along with Georgi Georgiev, but they also noted that he trained much less than others but was physically very gifted from a very young age.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Was brought into RINGS as his Judo and Sambo credentials would have made him the most decorated fighter in RINGS Bulgaria and was rumored that his expected success would eventually lead to a RINGS show in Bulgaria, but he did poorly in his fight with Lee Hasdell and left right after that fight.
  • I Know Judo: Represented Bulgaria in the European, International, and World Championships and was a two time national champion in 2001 and 2002 with a silver in 2005. He also trained in Sambo and was a 9 time national champion, represented Bulgaria in the European Championships, winning gold in 1999 and 2001, bronze in 2000 and also won bronze medals at the 1996, 1999, and 2002 World Sambo Championships with silver medals in 1995, 2000, and 2003.
  • Stout Strength: Was nearly 300 pounds.

Georgi Tsvetkov

  • Acrofatic: Put on some weight after he retired from active sambo competition, though he busted out short cartwheels in his fight with Roberto Traven to escape being grabbed.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Is one to RINGS Russia's Alexander Fedorov. Both were veteran Sambo world champions that became trainers for their respective stables and both threw themselves at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters and champions that were a lot younger and more experienced in MMA in their sole fights in RINGS.
  • Badass Teacher: Was a trainer for RINGS Bulgaria.
  • Challenge Seeker: Threw himself at Roberto Traven in the latter's debut in RINGS and even led him to a majority decision win. To give some clarity, Tzvetkov was 44 years old and retired for many years and went in without gloves while Traven was 32 years old, a two time world champion in BJJ, the 1999 ADCC Absolute Division Champion with wins over John Machado, Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Hayato Sakurai to win those championships and also won a Russian MMA tournament in 1997 by running through his opponents in less than 3 minutes each.
  • Cool Old Guy: Definitely, though a Retired Badass by his time in RINGS.
  • I Know Sambo: Was the first Bulgarian to win a World Championship in 1982 and also won bronze in the 1979 world championships, with another bronze at the 1982 European championships and a 4 time national champion. He is also a 6 time national Judo champion and trained in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling.
  • Old Master: A legendary Bulgarian sambist and judoka since the 1970s and a trainer in retirement.
  • The Sneaky Guy: Avoided and slipped out of all of Traven’s attempts at takedowns and grappling, despite not knowing if he could take Traven in stand-up striking, especially since he didn’t wear gloves for the fight.
  • Spell My Name with an S: For some reason in English his name was spelt as Gueorguiev Tzvetkov or Georgiev Tsvetkov.
  • The Unpronounceable
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Attempted a front dropkick near the end of his fight with Roberto Traven.


Mikhail Apostolov

  • I Know Sambo: A Bulgarian national champion, a 2004, 2005 and 2006 European bronze medalist and also won silver at the 2004 and 2005 World Sambo Championships. He also knew Judo and was a national champion and medalist.
  • Jobber: Had one fight in RINGS against Fedor Emelianenko.

Bozhidar Boyadzhiev

Veselin Bozhinov

Dimitŭr Doĭchinov

Dian Hristov

Aleksander Ivanov

  • I Know Boxing: A national champion and won international tournaments in Turkey, Italy and Canada.
  • Jobber
  • Name's the Same: Not to be confused with several Russian boxing and MMA fighters.
  • Stout Strength: Fought in the superheavyweight division in boxing.

Martin Lazarov

Georgi Nikolov

Stoyan Saladinov

  • Badass Teacher: Trained Bulgarian Commandos, "Spetsializiran Otryad Za Borba S Terorizma" ("Specialized Anti-Terrorism Task Force") and is also a MMA trainer to many Bulgarians like Blagoi Ivanov, Rossen Dimitrov, Marco Kossev, Kamen Georgiev, Tihomir Blagovestov, Nikola Dipchikov, Martin Marinkov and many others.
  • Friend to All Children: Is a advocate for "Detsa Sreshtu Drogata" ("Children Against Drugs").
  • Genius Bruiser: Has a doctorate in Pedagogical Sciences
  • I Know Judo: As well as Sambo, freestyle wrestling, and Karate and was a multiple time national champion in all of them.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Is a christian.
  • Ur-Example: Is considered the father of combat sambo in Bulgaria.

Tsvetko Tsvetkov

Nikola Zahariev

"Mr. Zahariev was incredible organizer, speaker and very daring person. He always has something to show and something to teach us, his students."
— Stoyan Saladinov

  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: Is an honorary vice chairman of the World Sambo Federation and a longtime vice-head of the sambo division of the CSKA (Central Sports Club of the Army) in Sofia, Bulgaria.
  • Badass Teacher: Was the head trainer of RINGS Bulgaria.
  • Cool Old Guy: Definitely, he was born on 15 May 1938.
  • I Know Sambo: As well as amateur wrestling.
  • Non-Action Guy: Was the manager of RINGS Bulgaria and didn't compete there.
  • Old Master: A long time Bulgarian sambo coach and was an amateur wrestling coach since 1971, a few years before he even learned Sambo.
  • Old Soldier: Was a Colonel in the Bulgarian Armed Forces.

    RINGS France
School of the Super Strikers

Cyrille Diabaté

  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: The head fighter of Snake Team, the French Konnection and RINGS France.
  • Bouncer: Before his fighting career.
  • Cool Teacher: He owns a gym, Snake Team. He was also frequently seen as a striking coach for Team Henderson in season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter.
  • French Jerk
  • The Giant: Standing 6’6” tall and sporting an 81.5” reach.
  • Guest Fighter: Had one fight in RINGS against Rodney Glunder.
  • I Know Karate: Shidokan Karate and also trained in savate and Muay Thai. He also trained with Team Quest and American Kickboxing Academy for MMA and grappling.
  • Red Baron: "The Snake", "Hiza Keri Orochi" ("Knee Strike Serpent").

Marc Emmanuel

Christophe Lardot

Cheick Ouedraogo

  • Badass Family: He is a cousin of rugby star Fulgence Ouedraogo, the French back-rower.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Has intentionally fouled in his matches to get the upper hand.
  • Cool Teacher: Has his own gym, Kongo Smashin' Club.
  • French Jerk / Scary Black Man: Born to a Burkinabé father and a Congolese mother in Paris, France.
  • Hero Killer: Has victories over Hans Njman, Joop Kasteel, and Mirko Filipović.
  • I Know Karate: A black belt in Karate and Kendo. He later learned Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Savate and Greco-Roman wrestling at age of 16. At age 19, he studied Pencak Silat Setia Hati Terate and was coached by Charles Joussot and Franck Ropers, men who brought silat to France. He later trained for MMA under Shooto veteran Daniel Quoniam.
  • Red Baron: "Kongo" which is most well known than his real surname, "The African Gladiator", "The French Sensation".

    RINGS Georgia 

Appeared in RINGS Japan
Strength Is In Unity

Amiran Bitsadze

  • Always Someone Better: Once had a match in RINGS against Tariel to determine who was the better fighter. Tariel won of course.
  • The Apprentice: To Shokei Matsui.
  • Bash Brothers: With Tariel.
  • Battle Strip: In the 1998 Mega Battle Tournament Finals against Joop Van Kasteel, where he started in his gi top but took it off after a rope escape.
  • Big Little Brother: Downplayed as while his Tariel weighed more than him, Amiran was actually taller.
  • Carpet of Virility: Not as much as his brother though.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: He wore only footguards along his gi pants.
  • The Giant: Was slightly taller than his brother who was about 6ft 7 and was himself almost 300 pounds.
  • I Know Karate: From the Kyokushin kind like his brother. A 1991 Georgian national champion, competed in the 1999 World Championships, but was taken out by Brazilian karateka Glaude Feitosa and also competed in the 2003 Championships, but didn’t past his first match.
  • Jobber: Despite his size and striking prowess, he rarely won any of his RINGS matches.
  • Martial Arts Uniform: Wore gi pants in his matches.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Used "Scoff" by Nirvana.
  • Spectacular Spinning: Another thing he shared with his brother was his use of spinning kicks. He was however lighter and a lot more agile that his brother and could do jumping spinning kicks with ease, multiple times in a match.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Is it Ameran or Amiran?
  • Tag Along Kid: Was in RINGS mostly for being Tariel's younger brother. Which is odd considering he appeared before Tariel debuted.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Was part of the Georgian team along with Tariel and Grom Zaza for the World Mega Battle Tournament of 1998. Team Georgia won that tournament.
  • The Unpronounceable: Like his brother.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Inverted. For some reason he usually wore either his gi top or a singlet with his gi pants instead of going shirtless like the other karatekas.

Tariel Bitsadze

"The way he uses his physical build is outstanding. He is built like a giant robot."

  • Acrofatic: Capable of pulling off axe kicks, spinning kicks and on rare occasions; jumping spinning kicks despite his size.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Was probably one to Pancrase’s Semmy Schilt, another giant karateka that caused trouble for other fighters due to his size and striking power.
  • The Apprentice: To Shokei Matsui.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Was the head of the RINGS Georgia team. He is also the head of the Georgian branch of the International Karate Organization Kyokushinkaikan.
  • Bash Brothers: With Amiran.
  • The Big Guy: Was the heaviest of the Georgian fighters.
  • Carpet of Virility: Chest and shoulders.
  • Colossus Climb: Due to his size, he could grab the ropes from nearly anywhere to escape submissions and provided a lot of problems to opponents who couldn’t take him down.
  • Cool Teacher: Is now a Kyokushin Karate instructor.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: He wore only footguards along his gi.
  • Expy: With his gi pants, Carpet of Virility, and Karate expertise, he looks basically like a bigger version of Chuck Norris's character in Bruce Lee's Way of the Dragon.
  • The Giant: 6ft 7 and over 300 pounds of Georgian mass.
  • Glass Cannon: A stamina one.
  • Hidden Depths: According to Chris Haseman, Tariel was not your typical one-dimensional striker and knew how to choke for real. In an unrelated note, Tariel also has the Georgian record in shot put.
  • I Know Karate: From the Kyokushin kind. One defeat to the legendary Andy Hug took him away from the world championship in 1991. He also participated in the 1995 and 1999, but had to quit in the former due to a hand injury and was eliminated by Aleksandr Pitchkunov in the latter, both of them at the fourth round. He also competed in the 2007 Championships but didn’t past his first match.
  • Martial Arts Uniform: Wore gi pants in his matches, though he later switched to shorts when he fought under the KOK rules.
  • Mighty Glacier: Slow but hard hitting.
  • Old Soldier: Quite literally: he fought in the Georgian Civil War.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: "In Yer Face (Facially Yours Remix)" by 808 State.
  • Red Baron: "Tsuyoshi Kobushi" ("Strong Fist"), "Karate Sanmyaku" ("Karate Mountain"), "Giant Robo".
  • Shout-Out: Maeda’s description of Tariel is possibly one to Giant Robo.
  • Spectacular Spinning: Favored spinning kicks (high, low, and even jumping), despite his size.
  • Spell My Name with an S: RINGS sometimes spelt his first name as Tarieli.
  • Stout Strength: Had a huge waist.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Was the captain of the Georgian team along with his brother Amiran and Grom Zaza for the World Mega Battle Tournament of 1998. Team Georgia won that tournament.
  • The Unpronounceable: Good luck trying to spell his surname.
  • Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object: His matches with Dick Vrij, Joop Kasteel, Gilbert Yvel and Renato Sobral.

Ramaz Buzariashvili

  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: Was the original head fighter of RINGS Georgia.
  • Child Soldiers: He was in his 20s when he debuted in RINGS but he was part of the Georgian Armed Forces in his teens when Georgia was still part of the USSR.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Was considered the best of the Georgian fighters, before Tariel Bitsadze and Grom Zaza caught up anyway. He even debuted against Akira Maeda. Unfortunately his run in RINGS was cut short due to an unspecified injury, so we’ll never know what his full potential could have looked like.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Injuries cut his RINGS career short before they went into full shoots.
  • I Know Chidaoba: Is considered a master and champion of this Georgian jacket wrestling style. He also knew Sambo and was six time Georgian national champion and a 1986 USSR champion (possibly, it is unclear if it is actually him or another guy with the same surname), and also trained in Greco-Roman and Freestyle Wrestling with a Soviet Union Junior Championship in freestyle.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Used "Black Masquerade" by Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Ramaz or Ramazi? Also Buzariashvili or Busariashvili? Also some sites list him as Ramaji Buzoriashivilli for some reason.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Not a great striker and nor that good of a submission technician, but he was a high level wrestler and could even takedown and throw guys like Chris Dolman and easily threw around Volk Han in a friendly chidaoda sparring session (though Han first easily twisted him up in a friendly Sambo sparring session).
  • The Unpronounceable: Yep.

Vladimer Chanturia

  • Boxing Battler: Wore gloves in RINGS
  • Cool Teacher: Is a boxing coach for the national team.
  • I Know Boxing: A bronze medalist in the 2000 Olympics, winner of international tournaments in Dagestan, Bulgaria, and Azerbaijan, was a bronze medalist at the Military World Games, and also won silver at the 1998 European Cup. He was also a professional boxer and won a national heavyweight championship. He also has some experience in Sambo and amateur wrestling.
  • Jobber: Lost to a young Alistair Overeem in his only match for RINGS.
  • Red Baron: "Midnight Train".
  • Spell My Name with an S: His name is also spelt as Vladimir Tchanturia.
  • The Unpronounceable: Indeed.

Levan Ebanoidze

  • Carpet of Virility
  • Cool Teacher: Is now a sumo coach. His most famous student is Levan Tsaguria, sumo name "Kokkai Futoshi", the first professional Georgian sumo wrestler.
  • Hidden Depths: He founded the LG SUMO Construction Company.
  • I Know Sumo Wrestling: The first Georgian to win an European and world championship. He also knew freestyle wrestling and chidaoba and was a European and USSR Youth champion in freestyle.
  • Red Baron: "Tigr" (Georgian spelling of "Tiger").
  • Stout Strength: A Georgian sumo wrestler.
  • The Unpronounceable: Which is why he was introduced as Tigr Levani.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: A typical RINGS Georgia wrestler who is good at throws and takedowns but not much else.

Bakur Gogitidze

  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: Was a former President of the Georgian Wrestling Federation from 2004 to 2005. It was more of case of Cincinnatus as he was the previous vice-president when the previous president Gocha Dzasokhov was elected Chairman of the Central Council of the Dynamo Sports and Fitness Society.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Subverted, he was the shortest and youngest regular fighter in his stable, but he never caused any problems while he was in RINGS.
  • I Know Greco-Roman Wrestling: Was a 1989 USSR Youth champion, a 1993 World Junior Champion, won a silver medal at the 1994 World Championships, placed sixth in the 1996 and 1997 European Championships, and competed in the 100kg division at the 1996 Olympics. He also trained in a bit of boxing under Georgi Kandelaki.
  • Leotard of Power: Wore an amateur wrestling one on occasion, he mostly wore short tights in RINGS.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Was notably the shortest guy in his stable, but that didn't stop him from deadlift suplexing some of the bigger and heavier guys he faced.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Used "Dead Peoples Lives" by Jesus Jones.
  • Red Baron: "Suplex Man".
  • Spell My Name with an S: RINGS spelled his name as Bakouri Gogitidze.
  • Suplex Finisher: Had an affinity for suplexes and slams.
  • The Unpronounceable: No doubt.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Continued the RINGS Georgia tradition of its wrestlers being incredible with throws, suplexes, and takedowns but almost nothing else. He was however strong enough to choke out Mikhail Ilyukhin.

Georgi Kandelaki

"In amateur boxing, I’ve won the world championship. I want to showcase my capabilities in the professional ring as well."

  • The Apprentice: To Zurab Gunia and Tarash Kandelaki.
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: Founded the Georgian Professional Boxing Association and became its president. He was also the president of the Georgian Amateur Boxing Association from 2002 to 2006.
  • Badass Family: His father Tarash Kandelaki is also a boxer and introduced Georgi to the sport.
  • Boxing Battler: Always fought with boxing gloves whenever he could.
  • Cool Teacher: Is now a boxing coach.
  • Eye Scream: Retired from boxing after an eye injury.
  • I Know Boxing: Represented Georgia at the 1996 Olympic Games, claimed a World Amateur title in 1997 (the first of his people to so do) with a silver medal in 1993, won the 1992 Junior World Championships, won an European amateur championship in 1993, and held the World Boxing Union Heavyweight title in 2002 through to 2003 as a professional boxer and retired unbeaten after 24 fights as a pro (though he did not meet a serious opponent).
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Used "Ready or Not" by Europe.
  • Red Baron: "Ringusu de Bokushingu suru Otoko" ("RINGS Boxing Man").
  • Spell My Name with an S: Kandelaki or Keandelaki? Also Georgi or Giorgi? RINGS also spelt his first name as Gueorgui.
  • Teen Genius: Was 18 when he debuted in RINGS.
  • The Unpronounceable: Sure.

David Khakhaleishvili

"In 1996, Russian Judo competitor, David Khakhaleichvili was the defending Olympic Heaveyweight Champ and the favorite to win the Gold in Atlanta. He was told by an official that he was to weigh in (why would a heavyweight have to weigh in?) and given an address to go to. It turned out that he was sent to the wrong building, didn't make the weigh in and was refused the chance to compete. He had to sit in the stands and watch - Screwed!"

  • Badass Family: His son, Rostomi is also an accomplished judoka.
  • Cool Teacher: Became a Judo and sambo trainer after he retired. One of his students is professional sumo wrestler Gagamaru Masaru (real name: Teimuraz Jugheli), who trained under Khakhaleishvili in judo and sambo before he took up sumo.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Wore foot guards instead.
  • Hero Killer: Defeated Naoya Ogawa for his Olympic gold medal.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Was brought into RINGS to give RINGS Georgia a sort of ace figure, but he didn't do as well as expected and left RINGS after a few matches.
  • I Know Judo: An accomplished judoka representing Georgia, with medals in the USSR, European, and World Championships, and won the Olympic gold medal in the +95kg division in 1992 representing the unified Olympic team and is considered the first official Georgian Olympic gold medalist. He even did a Judo exhibition with Bakur Gogitidze in his debut for RINGS. He is also a 2 time Sambo world champion.
  • Martial Arts Uniform: Wore gi pants in his matches.
  • The Rival: With Naoya Ogawa in Judo. They battled on the mats multiple times, with Ogaya besting Khakhaleishvili for the gold at the 1991 World Championships and Khakhaleishvili besting Ogaya for the gold at the 1992 Olympics.
  • Screwed by the Network: He didn't compete at the 1996 Olympics because he was told by an official that he had to weigh in and was given an address to go to. It turned out that he was sent to the wrong building, didn't make the weigh in and was disqualified.
  • Spell My Name with an S: David or Davit?
  • Stout Strength: Had a wide waist.
  • The Unpronounceable: Noticing a pattern yet?

Siera Khvitcha

Koba Kupatadze

Zurab Sarsania

  • Boxing Battler: Fought with boxing gloves on.
  • Downer Ending: Died in September 1994, he was only 21.
  • Hero Killer: Has a victory over Ukrainian heavyweight boxing ace Wladimir Klitschko in his amateur days.
  • I Know Boxing: A 2 time USSR champion, an European championship silver medalist, a world championship medalist and part of the Georgian national team.
  • Stout Strength: Competed as a super heavyweight class in boxing.
  • The Unpronounceable: Surprisingly averted.

Tengiz Tedoradze

Koba Tkeshelashvili

Zaza Tkeshelashvili

"Zaza, a former Olympic wrestler, took Morais, a 6-8, muscular 265 pounder down at the bell and mainly controlled him in boring fashion, throwing a few punches here and there. The crowd was chanting for Zaza since Morais could never get control. Morais got one brief reversal, but Zaza reversed back almost immediately. Morais had the guard on most of the way and really this match could have been a draw, although the crowd was so into seeing Zaza on top and chanting for him that it was a unanimous decision."
— Dave Meltzer

  • The Ace: Was arguably the best fighter of RINGS Georgia as he was athletic, strong, and unlike most of his countrymen learned eventually and could submit people.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Arguably to Victor Zangiev.
  • The Apprentice: To Vano Nikoladze.
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: Is a member of the Presidium of the Georgian Wrestling Federation.
  • Bash Brothers: With Koba.
  • Boring, but Practical: His fight with Ricardo Morais saw him takedown and pin Morais on his back for most of the fight. Though it may count more as Mundane Made Awesome due to their size and weight difference.
  • Cool Teacher: Works now as a physical education teacher.
  • Expansion Pack Past: Before his RINGS career, he worked as part of the Georgian Security Police Department, most notably as a bodyguard for Eduard Shevardnadze before he became the second president of Georgia.
  • Genius Bruiser: Aside from wrestler and fighter, Zaza is also a fully qualified veterinarian.
  • I Can Still Fight!: Lost to Bobby Hoffman by KO, but he protested the decision as he was only knocked down and still conscious when the referee stopped the fight.
  • I Know Freestyle Wrestling: Was a member of the Georgian Olympic team, competed in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, was a 1986 European Champion, a World Cup winner and a 4 time Soviet Champion. He also learned Sambo to learn about leg locks and even had a sambo exhibition on one of the RINGS shows with Tomoyuki Horigome. He also knows a traditional Georgian jacket folk wrestling style called chidaoba.
  • The Paragon: Similar to Volk Han, he was probably the best fighter of RINGS Georgia and was their only member who was fit and athletic and not pintoresquely overweighted.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: "Kurski Funk" by Paul Winter & Friends.
  • Red Baron: "Grom" ("Thunder").
  • Silver Fox: Had silver hair.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Was part of the Georgian team along with Amiran and Tariel Bitsadze for the World Mega Battle Tournament of 1998. Team Georgia won that tournament.
  • The Unpronounceable: Which is why most of sites list him as Grom Zaza or Zaza Grom.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: He was mostly a wrestler, but his takedowns were fearsome, and he later put effort in learning about leglocks.
  • Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object: He faced Brazilian giant Ricardo Morais in a vale tudo fight and won the decision and avenged Mikhail Ilyukhin and Yoshihisa Yamamoto’s losses to Morais (as well as Yuri Kochkine’s brutal draw against him).

Andrei Turmanidze

  • Cool Teacher: Was the former head coach of the Georgian National Freestyle Wrestling team.
  • I Know Freestyle Wrestling: Competed in the 1996 Olympics and was part of the Georgian Freestyle wrestling team. He is also a 1987 European Champion, won silver medals in the 1989 and 1991 World Cup and placed 4th in the 1993 and 1995 World Championships.
  • Leotard of Power: Wore a blue amateur wrestling one against Fred Oosterom.
  • Odd Name Out: Is the only renamed fighter to be renamed with a common first name rather than an animal or storm themed name, though Andrei does mean either warrior, brave or manly.
  • One-Steve Limit: Apparently his real name is Zaza Turmanidze, he was renamed in RINGS so people wouldn't confused him for Grom Zaza.
  • Spell My Name with an S: He name was sometimes listed as Andre Tourminadze.
  • The Unpronounceable: So much so that he is sometimes introduced as Andre Ruminezei for some reason.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Typical RINGS Georgia wrestler.


Vepcho Bardanashvili

Nodar Ekvtimishvili

Gega Gegeshidze

Levon Lagvilava

Ilya Tlashadze

    RINGS Holland 

    RINGS Japan 

Official Fight Team
The Forefathers of Maeda-ism

Hiroyuki Ito

Tsuyoshi Kohsaka

Mitsuya Nagai

Yasuhito Namekawa

"Namekawa's career started on the undercard of early, worked-shoot RINGS events, but his crisp, technical grappling translated well to legitimate shootfights—to a point. Namekawa went 4-8 in his first two years of professional (real) fighting within RINGS, some of which can be blamed on particularly stiff competition that included larger, more experienced fighters like Chris Haseman, Willie Peeters, Alistair Overeem, Lee Hasdell and even the old wolf Volk Han himself. It was an entirely familiar career trajectory for fighters transitioning from shoot-style wrestling, and when RINGS sent Namekawa to America as a part of their RINGS USA initiative, it was more as a warm body than a competitor. And, somehow, that's where Namekawa turned his career around. As said, in his first two years Namekawa had gone 4-8: In the following four he went 10-4-1, including a shocking chokeout of rising star Falaniko Vitale and a hard-fought decision loss against Wallid Ismail, one of the best grapplers in the world. By 2004 he'd reversed his losing record and risen to 14-12-1, and Pride, in its big Bushido expansion period, was interested. They also wanted to test him: His first fight with the organization, at Pride: Bushido 2, would be a rematch with the Lithuanian prospect Egidijus Valavicius, who'd notched one of those aforementioned four losses in Namekawa's belt by beating him so soundly that his corner threw in the towel in just 2:18. Pride wanted Namekawa, but they wanted him to prove he belonged. Somewhat shockingly, he did. Valavicius immediately backed Namekawa into a turnbuckle with punches, Namekawa shot for a takedown, the two scrambled and Namekawa abruptly jumped on a guillotine choke, the same one he'd finished five other men with in his career. Valavicius struggled, punched, strained so hard his mouthpiece popped out of his mouth, and ultimately tapped out just 65 seconds into the fight. It was the best moment of Namekawa's career—after its troubled beginning, after his journey back to a winning record, he'd avenged the worst loss of his career on the biggest stage he'd ever seen with his favorite maneuver. It was the best introduction a fighter could possibly ask for."
— A profile of Namekawa from a Fire Pro Wrestling user CarlCX from

  • The Apprentice: To Animal Hamaguchi and Akira Maeda.
  • Blue Is Heroic: Mostly wore dark blue gear in RINGS.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Participated in the first amateur RINGS event before officially joining the team. He also trained at the UWFI and Pancrase dojos before he joined RINGS.
  • Expy: Shares a lot with Wataru Sakata, RINGS career-wise. Both were Animal Hamaguchi trainees before their RINGS careers, were Akira Maeda fans, had rivals in RINGS in the form of Willie Peeters for Sakata and Lee Hasdell for Namekawa (both of their opponents were also considered the Gate Guardian during certain periods in RINGS, Willie in the first half and Lee in the second half), and were two of the most improved shooters by the end of RINGS.
  • Hidden Depths: Is a Judo therapist, a treatment method that exclusively treats external injuries related to bones and joints.
  • I Know Karate: Trained Amateur Wrestling at the Animal Hamaguchi gym.
  • Jobber: Mostly in 2000 as he failed to pick up a single win in the first half of that year.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Joined RINGS in 1998 and never got off the ground before the promotion folded down.
  • Promoted Fan Boy: Was a Akira Maeda fan boy.
  • Red Baron: "Sasurai no Nekketsu Fighter" ("The Hot-Blooded Wandering Fighter"), "Maeda Akira Saigo no Manadeshi" ("Akira Maeda's Last Beloved Disciple").
  • The Rival: Had a trilogy of fights against Lee Hasdell.
  • Rugby Is Slaughter: Played in high school.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Like Wataru Sakata, he was one of the most improved shooters by the end of RINGS.

Masayuki Naruse

Wataru Sakata

Yukihiro Takenami

"Well, I’ll just fight like I normally do in my street fights. If I think of this as a match, I’ll get nervous. I’ll just do what I normally do with the intention of winning."

  • The Apprentice: To Shogo Tanaka and Akira Maeda.
  • Arch-Enemy: His opponents in RINGS were karatekas Nobuaki Kakuta and Willie Williams.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Was quite short, possibly the shortest member of the stable and once acted disrespectful to Nobuaki Kakuta before their match.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Disrespected Nobuaki Kakuta before their bout and got TKO'ed for his trouble.
  • Graceful Loser: Despite the disrespect he showed earlier and the beating he took for it, he still shook Kakuta's hand when he offered it after the bout.
  • The Idiot from Osaka: From Naniwa.
  • I Know Karate: A Kyokushin practitioner, as well as shoot and Catch Wrestling.
  • Jobber: Had a very short run in RINGS lasting less than a year and lost every match he was in.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Is not a well known member part of the RINGS Japan.
  • Red Baron: "Naniwa no Kenkaya" ("The Brawler of Naniwa").

Yoshihisa Yamamoto

Debutants that competed in Amateur RINGS

Nobu Hayashi

"Just like Chakuriki spirit, "going forward, and forward"."

  • The Apprentice: To Katsuaki Satō, Akira Maeda, and Thom Harinck.
  • Cool Teacher: Is the head coach of Dojo Chakuriki Japan.
  • Determinator: Was diagnosed with acute leukemia in 2009 and while he successfully treated it in 2010, he has experienced relapses but has overcome them.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": His first name is actually Nobuki.
  • I Know Karate: A Satō Juku practitioner since high school. He later trained in Kickboxing at the Chakuriki Dojo in Holland and also has a background in Kendo.
  • Red Baron: "Gyaku Yunyū Faitā"("Reimport Fighter").

Tomoki Kanuka

  • The Apprentice: To Yuki Nakai and Animal Hamaguchi.
  • Cool Teacher: Former head instructor of Paraestra Iwate, Kuji, and Mutsu. He now has his own gym called LAZOONA Academy.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Debuted in RINGS and was an amateur RINGS 80kg class champion in 1998, but spent most of his MMA career in Shooto.
  • Guest Fighter: Represented Grappling Universal with he appeared in RINGS.
  • I Know Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Trained at Paraestra Tokyo and is a black belt, as well as shoot wrestling. He also trained in Greco-Roman wrestling at the Animal Hamaguchi Dojo and also knows Sambo and won the 2003 Aomori Prefecture Sambo Championships in the 82kg class. He also placed third in 2007 Pancrase Pro-Am Catch Wrestling tournament in the under 100kg class and was the runner-up in the 2009 All Japan Combat Wrestling Championships in the 80kg class.

Naoyuki Kotani

Kaichi Tsuji

  • A Day In The Lime Light: Had a victory over Akira Shoji in the first round of Lumax Cup Tournament of J '97 Heavyweight Division.
  • Cool Teacher: Former head instructor of G-Free.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Competed in the Lumax Cup Tournament of J '97 Heavyweight Division and fought a few fights in amateur and professional RINGS before his start in Shooto.
  • I Know Karate: As well as shoot wrestling and was the 7th amateur Shooto heavyweight champion.

Debutants from U-File Camp
Fight Training With Style

Goro Kobayashi

Eriya Matsuda

  • The Apprentice: To Kiyoshi Tamura, Makoto Ohe, Yukio Sakaguchi, and Kensaku Maeda.
  • Cool Teacher: Is the MMA and personal fitness trainer at the Typhoon Club Fight Fitness Gym.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Had his first amateur and pro fights in RINGS, he later became a regular Pancrase fighter.
  • I Know Karate: Won 2nd place at the 1996 All Okinawa Karate Championships, also trained in Kyokushin and Judo, later trained at U-FILE Camp and was a 80kg champion at the 7th amateur RINGS tournament in 1999 and then Sakaguchi Dojo for MMA and also trained at Dragon Dojo for Kickboxing.

Tashihiro Nishiuchi

  • The Apprentice: To Kiyoshi Tamura and Makoto Ohe.
  • Cool Teacher: Was a coach at U-FILE Camp.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Competed and won 2nd place at a Kingdom Ehrgeiz amateur middleweight tournament before his RINGS debut.
  • I Know Judo: A 1st dan black belt, he later trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Nova Uniao Japan. He also trained at U-FILE Camp and also has a background in Shorinji Kempo.
  • Red Baron: "Akai" ("Red"), "Tatakau Shinagawa Shōji" ("Fighting Shinagawa Shoji").

Kazuki Okubo

"Okubo was something of an enhancement talent for U-STYLE: A solid technical grappler, but not particularly successful enough to stand out from the pack. He mostly put over other wrestlers, most notably the organization's owner Kiyoshi Tamura, and split his time evenly between wresling and mixed martial arts. He didn't fare much better at all there, either. Okubo was a can crusher, as in a five-year, sixteen-fight career, his only victories came against 0-0 fighters, most of whom would fight only rarely afterward—in fact, the combined record of his opponents at the end of their careers was 10-18, which becomes more damning when you add that 8 of those wins came from one opponent, Ryuichi Murata, who was solely a judoka with no MMA experience or training when he fought Okubo. He had two Pride appearances—a Pride 24 decision loss to Daijiro Matsui and a Pride: Bushido 8 battle with the aforementioned Murata—and was notably for being a tough man to stop. That didn't make it past the Japanese circuit, though: When he left the country to fight for the Mix-Fight group he took three quick, violent losses, including a Kurt Pellegrino slam TKO and one of Jeremy Horn's very rare knockouts, and after a decision loss to one-time WEC title challenger Hiromitsu Miura, he called it a day. Okubo retired from MMA at 7-9. He still makes sporadic pro-wrestling appearances, but for the most part he works in the gym. It's probably a better fit."
— A profile of Okubo from a Fire Pro Wrestling user CarlCX from

Kyosuke Sasaki

"Today's entrant is Kyosuke Sasaki, another of the original U-STYLE shoot-wrestling rebels—the runner-up of the U-STYLE tournament to crown a challenger worthy of facing Kiyoshi Tamura, the man who founded the company, who proceeded to defeat the winner, then challenge Sasaki and go over him too. (Here's a spoiler for the entire history of wrestling: Nine times out of ten, the person who signs the checks is going over.) Sasaki was one of the rare cases who fought in MMA before he became a professional wrestler, participating over in RINGS and DEEP before parlaying his real martial training into the performance of wrestling. You would think, with the core of his skills being real rather than performative, he would have considerably more success on the fighting circuit than his U-STYLE peers. Unfortunately for his fighting career, he was even less successful than most of them. Sasaki was tough—he was only stopped twice in 14 fights, both at the hands of British kickboxing champions—but he also only won three fights. Some part of that can be blamed on stiff competition, as in his career he tangled with the likes of Yushin Okami, Seichi Ikemoto, Eiji Mitsuoka and Jutaro Nakao, but he floundered against rookies, too. He was a talented defensive fighter, but was never able to mount offense in turn. After amassing a record of 3-7-4, he cut his losses and returned to a fulltime wrestling schedule as part of Japan's independent scene, where he's still performing as Hitamaru Sasaki. Everyone wanted to be Sakuraba, Fujita or Tamura, in the end. Unfortunately, most of them wound up as cross-sport midcarders."
— A profile of Sasaki from a Fire Pro Wrestling user CarlCX from

Debutants from Power of Dream
Live The Dream

Ken Orihashi

"Orihashi was a heavyweight student at the Power of Dream gym, an early Japanese MMA academy founded by RINGS, Pride and UFC veteran Kenichi Yamamoto. POD was nver an enormously successful gym, but it put together a few well-rounded fighters, most notably DEEP standout Tomoya Miyashita, who was on his way to a title before he was claimed by cancer at the tragically young age of 30. Orihashi, for his part, was not one of those well-roudned fighters. Despite having some wrestling skills, he was a puncher, and was not content with his fights unless punching was heavily involved. At 5'10" and 250 pounds, Orihashi was a stout, reckless brawler. It showed in his results. Of his final 8-7 record, seven wins were TK Os anchored by his hands and six losses were TK Os incurred as the price for his style, and only three fights in total made it past one round. The first six fights of Orihashi's career happened on two nights— a pair of single-day tournaments with the Tokyo-based Titan F Ighting Championship—and none lasted longer than 93 seconds. He failed to capture either tournament, and wouldn't win another fight for three and a half years afterward. But that's the life of a brawler. He did it unrepentantly and he succeeded more often than he failed: That's all you can ask of the brawling journeyman. It's a shame his one Pride appearance has been lost."
— A profile of Orihashi from a Fire Pro Wrestling user CarlCX from

Hideo Tokoro

"The way he was marketed in K-1, it was always tempting to dismiss Hideo Tokoro as a gimmick. A good-looking Japanese kid who worked as a janitor, lived in a tiny apartment, and bathed in a sink while fighting to make it as a mixed martial artist for the tiny ZST promotion, there's no doubt Tokoro was a compelling story."
— Tokoro's profile in the book, The MMA Encyclopedia.

  • Almighty Janitor: He is a former janitor in real life.
  • The Apprentice: To Kenichi Yamamoto from his Power of Dream gym.
  • Cool Teacher: Has his own gym now, Reversal Gym Musashi Kosugi Tokoro Plus.
  • Elite Four: Was part of the "ZST Shi Kyōdai" ("ZST Four Brothers").
  • Hero Killer: Has victories against Alexandre Pequeno, Royler Gracie, Masakazu Imanari, and Rumina Sato.
  • I Know Karate: Learned Shoot Wrestling Under Kenichi Yamamoto who also trained him in Muay Thai. He also has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is said to have also trained in Koppo.
  • Poor Man's Substitute: To Kazushi Sakuraba as he was seen as another Gracie hunter has a draw against Royce Gracie, a victory against Royler Gracie and loss against Kron Gracie.
  • Rags to Riches: A downplayed example, but he was a janitor and bathing in a sink before his fighting career.
  • Red Baron: "Little Volk Han", "Ringu no Majutsu-shi" ("The Magician of the Ring"), "The Human Octopus", "Gyakkyō Faitā" ("Adversity Fighter"), "Tatakau Furītā ("Fighting Freeter"), "Cinderella Boy", "Tatakau Sutōkā" ("Fight Stalker").
  • Spectacular Spinning: Is fond of using spinning backfists and heel kicks.
  • Technician Versus Performer: Mostly a performer, his style is described as "breakneck paced" and "exciting" as he works at high-speed on the ground and takes all risks with bold submission attempts, often leaving himself open to counterattacks in order to seek a chance to win.

Japan Command Sambo Federation & Debutants from SK Absolute

Yoshikazu Endo

Akihiro Gono

"1-2-1-2-3-4! Bounce with me, bounce with me, bounce with me BOUNCE!!"

  • Affectionate Parody: His "DJ GOZMA" persona, a parody of Japanese pop star DJ OZMA which he plays at his entrances.
  • Afro Asskicker: Wears an afro wig as the mentioned parody.
  • The Apprentice: To Tenshin Matsumoto, Kazuyoshi Ishii, Sanae Kikuta and André "Benkei" Vinícius Aurnheimer.
  • Big Entrance: Complete with dancers, fabulous attires and pop music.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Debuted in RINGS at 18 years old.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: His opinion about his victory over Crosley Gracie, which admittedly would have been bigger business had it happened years before.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: You have to be some serious one to enter an arena doing what Gono does.
  • Confusion Fu: Though not in a flashy way, his fighting style is quite unpredictable and full of dodges, counters and strikes from weird angles. He claims he copied it from pro boxer James Toney.
  • Costume Porn: Started the trend in PRIDE.
  • Dancing Is Serious Business
  • Determinator: Had liver cancer when he was 1, underwent major surgery in a situation where the survival rate at that time was almost 0% and his survival was thought of as a miracle (surgical traces remained on the right abdomen). Overcoming such a physical handicap, he sees his success in mixed martial arts as a symbol of strength.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Originally debuted in RINGS but switched to Shooto after the 1994 Lumax cup.
  • I Know Sambo: A command sambo representative and also knew Seidokaikan Karate and is a former All Japan Kickboxing Federation Heavyweight champion.
  • Minored In Ass Kicking: Aside from MMA and the Lumax Cups, he has competed in Shin Bu Kan (All-Japan Combatives) in 1994 and 1995, as well as Daido-Juku in 1996, grappled at the ADCC, kickboxed for the Krush promotion and even participated in one of Shootboxing's world championship tournaments.
  • Nerd Glasses: Wore them in the early 90s.
  • Red Baron: "The Japanese Sensation", "Grabaka no Kayaku Ko" ("Grabaka's Powder Keg"), "The Magic Man", "DJ GOZMA", "Nankōfuraku no Biggumausu" ("Impregnable Big Mouth"), "Sōgō Kakutōgi no Mōshigo" ("Child of Mixed Martial Arts").
  • Shout-Out: He sometimes puts "ROY JONES JR" characters at the front of his trunks as he is a fan. In the rear he puts "LIGHTS OUT" which is the nickname of pro boxer James Toney.
  • Stone Wall: He copied pro boxer James Toney's "Old School" or "Throwback" style of boxing, consisting of his head and shoulder rolls (used to avoid punches), his ability to fight off the ropes, his slick body movements, and his infighting for his own use. He uses this to match other fighters in Kickboxing and the stand up fighting in MMA fights and he calls it "Jakusha no Senryaku" ("Strategy of the Weak").
  • Surprisingly Good English: Apparently he self-taught himself English fluently. He is one of the few Japanese MMA fighters who can talk and interview without an interpreter.
  • The Un-Favourite: To Dana White because he really hated Gono's elaborate entrances and told Gono not to do them in the UFC, though Gono responded by coming up with entirely new ones.

Tomoyuki Horigome

  • The Apprentice: To Victor Koga and Ichiro Hatta.
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: Was the first Chairman of the Japan Command Sambo Federation until it shut down with RINGS. He is now the honourary chairman since its revival in 2012. He was also the president of the Fédération Internationale de SAMBO from 1997 to 2005.
  • Guest Fighter: Was in RINGS for sambo exhibitions with Grom Zaza and Yoshikazu Endo.
  • He Also Did: He provided the commentary to Volk Han's Command Sambo instructional tape.
  • I Know Sambo: Sport and Command Sambo. He also trained in Judo and amateur wrestling.
  • Nom de Guerre: Was introduced in RINGS as Hori Yone.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Is listed as Tomoyuki Horimai according to FIAS for some reason.

Tatsuya Kurahashi

Hidehiko Matsumoto

  • The Apprentice: To Yōsuke Yamamoto, Noriaki Kiguchi and Tenshin Matsumoto (no relation).
  • Cool Teacher: Chairman of the Coach Commission of the Japan SAMBO Federation and has an instructional video on sambo.
  • Guest Fighter: From the Japan SAMBO Federation.
  • I Know Sambo: A 1999 All Japan champion and multiple time medalist with 12 consecutive appearances, and was a silver medalist in 2000 and 2002 World Sambo Championships and a bronze medalist at the 2008 in 62kg class and trained in Command Sambo with SK Absolute. He is also a 5th dan black belt in Judo and trained in Combat Wrestling at the Kiguchi Dojo.
  • Jobber
  • The Rival: With Jiro Wakabayashi at the All Japan Sambo Championships.

Tenshin Matsumoto

  • The Apprentice: To Volk Han.
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: It the current president of the Japan Command Sambo Federation. He was also fought as the head fighter of his SK Absolute team in promotions like Pancrase and ZST.
  • Badass Teacher: Founded SK Absolute, a command Sambo-MMA team and gym with branches in Japan, Russia, Korea, and Bulgaria.
  • He Also Did: Was an event producer for Sengoku Raiden Championships (or World Victory Road). He is also part of the Ganryujima promotion's executive committee.
  • I Know Sambo: Trained in Command Sambo under Volk Han.

Motomichi Mori

Jiro Wakabayashi

The Forefathers of ZST

Takuya Futaesaku

  • He Also Did: He invented a striking bag which is a thin cylinder on a chain for fast kicking, punching, and avoiding simulated strikes called the “KO Bag.” It allows one to move around more freely than a standard, large heavy bag.
  • I Know Karate: A Kyokushin and Yoshukai black belt and even became an instructor when he was a high school student.
  • Insistent Terminology: He uses the term "Fightology" to encompass his medical research on Fighting sports.
  • The Medic: Was a ring doctor near the end of RINGS and also at K-1 and other MMA promotions. He is also recognized as music tour doctor, Supporting Prince family, George Clinton & P-funk, Tower Of Power, Candy Dulfer, and more top artists. His book about Prince,"Words Of Prince" is also best seller in Japan.
  • Red Baron: "Dr. F".

Kōki Hioki

Kōji Iwasaki

Akiho Jirōmaru

Hideyuki Kumakubo

Koji Kuroda

Zuishō Kuwata

Kentarō Ogawa

  • Non-Action Guy
  • Uncle Pennybags: Is the head of Zensho Holdings, a Japanese holding company which owns several restaurant chains in Japan with its largest being Sukiya with serves gyūdon (rice bowls with beef). They were a major sponsor for RINGS.

Akira Ōta

  • Always Someone Better: Strangely not in wrestling but in Judo. He once went to a national judo competition and saw Yasuhiro Yamashita (who was in the same age group as Ōta) dominate the competition. Ōta quit judo afterwards and changed to amateur wrestling as he felt he could never beat Yamashita.
  • Combat Commentator: Has provided commentary for Inoki Genome Federation.
  • Cool Teacher: In 2003, he became Assistant Professor of Waseda University Sports Science Division, then became a full professor in 2011. He is also a MMA trainer and has his own team and was also Kendo Kashin's amateur wrestling coach.
  • Determinator: Went into the finals of the 90kg freestyle wrestling division of the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games with broken ribs.
  • I Know Amateur Wrestling: A two time Olympic freestyle wrestling lightheavyweight silver medalist. He is also an Asian Wrestling Championships gold and bronze medalist in 1981 and 1992 respectively, as well as an Asian Games bronze medalist in 1982. He also trained a bit in Judo in his junior highschool days.
  • Non-Action Guy: In RINGS, he was a special advisor only.
  • Ur-Example: The first Japanese Olympic freestyle wrestler to medal at the 90kg division.

Misako Sadaie

  • Non-Action Girl
  • Team Mom: Was an interpreter and caretaker for the gaijin athletes since the beginning of RINGS. The RINGS Holland guys affectionately called her "Mama".

Sōichi Shibata

Katsuyuki Shinohara

  • Non-Action Guy: Was the Honourary Chairman of RINGS and also worked on the RINGS title belts.

Keiji Shiozaki

Kenichi Takayagi

Shōgo Tanaka

Sadaharu Tanikawa

  • Combat Commentator: Was one for RINGS from its launch to November 1993. He also commentated for PRIDE, K-1, Battlarts, HERO’S, DREAM, etc.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Was the president of Fighting and Entertainment Group which was responsible for producing PRIDE HERO’S and DREAM. He was also CEO of K-1 from 2003 to 2012 and is now a promoter for the Ganryujima promotion.
  • Non-Action Guy: He was a martial arts critic and editor-in-chief of a martial arts magazines for many years, but he has no real experience in martial arts. For that reason, a lot of his comments and analysis is from slightly to completely wrong. He is however quite athletic and has competed in handball in high school, American Football in college and competed in the Tokyo Marathon in 2009 and completed in 6 hours, 12 minutes and 50 seconds.
  • Start My Own: Co-founded WRESTLE-1 (the 2005 version, not the one run by Keiji Mutoh) with Fumihiko Uwai.

Yutaka Tokita

"I will do my best to try to eliminate the pain as soon as possible."

  • The Medic: Was a medical trainer for RINGS since 1996. He is now the third director of the Tokita Hari-Kyu Osteopathic Clinic.

Motoko Uchida

Jō Uehara

Taro Wakabayashi

  • Bash Brothers: With Jiro.
  • The Chessmaster: Was a matchmaker for RINGS and an event coordinator with K-1 before his time in Shooto. In Shooto, he was a matchmaker, referee, judge, and went on to become the driving force behind its comprehensive amateur system.
  • Combat Referee: In Shooto.
  • Hidden Depths: Worked for Japanese advertising company Dentsu Tec before going to RINGS.
  • Non-Action Guy
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Left RINGS since he wanted more shoots on the cards, which Maeda disagreed to.
  • Start My Own: Co-founded the Paraestra gym network with Yuki Nakai.
  • White-Collar Crime: Had at one point "unofficial autocratic control over" over Shooto's finances and allegedly committed financial fraud which lead to the Shooto Tax Scandal in 2011.

    RINGS Korea
Benefit Broadly The Human World

Kim Lee Klin

  • The Apprentice: To Akira Maeda.
  • Cool Teacher: In 1998, he would go on to open one of the first shoot wrestling academies in South Korea.
  • Guest Fighter: Only had one appearance in RINGS in a Kickboxing match against Rob Esdonk.
  • I Know Taekwondo: A 5th dan black belt and junior national champion of the sport. He was also a Korean heavyweight Kickboxing champion and a 6th dan black belt in hapkido.
  • Unique Enemy: Was the only RINGS Korea representative when RINGS Japan was still in business and only appeared on one show.

Kim Min-soo

Song Sung-il

  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Was contacted by Akira Maeda to be the first RINGS Korea representative in 1994. Then he got terminal cancer and died before he could debut.
  • I Know Greco-Roman Wrestling: Represented South Korea in the 1992 Summer Olympics at Barcelona in the 100kg division. He was also an Asian Games gold medalist in 1994 and also won gold medals at the 1992 and 1993 Asian Championships.

    RINGS Lithuania 

    RINGS Russia 




Fumio Akiyama

Toshiyuki Atokawa

Laurent Bonafoux

Tomotsugu Fujiwara

Ciro Gallo

  • The Apprentice: To his Thai trainer Mungsarin, Nigel Howlett and Matt Skelton.
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: Is the technical director of Campania IMTE / WMC / IFMA.
  • Bouncer: A worked as a bodyguard, one of his clients was Al Fayhed, the head of the HARRODS London.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: A holder of about 5 Guinness World Records based on several feats of strength like running 10km with a 100kg item on his shoulders in 1 hour and 58 minutes in 2007, , had a Harley Davidson of 400kg pass by on his stomach twice in 1997, had a 7500kg truck pass by on his stomach once, having 37 concrete blocks with a total weight of 519.8lbs (235.8kg) placed on his chest and broken with a 14lb sledgehammer while he lay on a bed of nails in 2002, and broke 500 reinforced concrete tiles split with the right hand, the right tibia and his head in 1 minute and 5 seconds in 2001.
  • Cool Teacher: A Muay Thai trainer with his own gym, Gallos Camp International of Muay Thai.
  • Guest Fighter: Only fought at a few RINGS UK events.
  • I Know Muay Thai: A former European and world champion. He also trained in Wing Chun under Carlo Gaetano Mazzacano.
  • Rambunctious Italian
  • Stout Strength: A hefty dude, with feats of strength in the Guinness World Records.

Gela Getsadze

Tony Halme

  • Bouncer: Has worked as one in Finland.
  • Boxing Battler: Fought in RINGS with boxing gloves when possible. Surprisingly, he did try to get submissions despite the difficulty in his match with Mitsuya Nagai.
  • Charles Atlas Super Power: Started power training and weightlifting at his late teens when he enjoyed watching his brothers training, who were in the Finnish national team.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: His matches with Dick Vrij were intended to be this as the "Battle of the Fighting Cyborgs".
  • Cool Teacher: Trained Mick Tierney.
  • Expy: Sort of one to Dick Vrij, as they were both fair haired, muscle bound, strikers with limited skills in the other aspects of fighting, and both had the nickname of "Fighting Cyborg".
  • Genius Bruiser: Became a politician after he retired from fighting and wrestling.
  • I Know Boxing: Was a professional boxing champion in Finland. He also had some rudimentary grappling training from Gene LeBell and Gokor Chivichyan.
  • Jobber: Was a victim of Dick Vrij, three times.
  • Mighty Glacier: Slow, but hit like a truck.
  • One-Hit Kill: In one match with Tariel Bitsadze, Halme was behind on points and almost lost the bout, then in the final round he managed to get a hit on Tariel that knocked him down and out giving Halme the win.
  • Precision F-Strike: Yelled "What the Fuck!" in his match with Tariel Bitsadze after Tariel punched him in the back when he was trying to get back up.
  • Red Baron: "Viikinki" ("The Viking") "Kakutō Saibōgu" ("Fighting Cyborg"), Gyakusatsu Viking ("Genocide Viking"), "The Hellraiser from Helsinki".
  • Stout Strength / Top-Heavy Guy: Thanks to his power and weightlifting training.
  • Ur-Example: The first fighter from the Nordic countries to ever compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Trained by Masa Saito, Brad Rheingans and Verne Gagne. He has wrestled for the Catch Wrestling Association (CWA), NJPW and Wrestling/WWE under the ring name Ludvig Borga. Also aside from his boxing, he used suplexes in his RINGS matches when he could afford to.

Animal Hamaguchi

Allen Harris

Kazunori Hase

"Large, strong, gentle..."

Junji Hirata/Super Strong Machine

  • Bash Brothers: With Shinya Hashimoto.
  • Cool Mask: As Super Strong Machine.
  • Expy: In 1986, the WWE introduced a stable of wrestlers called The Machines featuring "The Giant Machine" (André the Giant), "Big Machine" (Blackjack Mulligan), and "Super Machine" (Bill Eadie) based on the Super Strong Machine gimmick. They were also based on Hirata’s earlier attempt in 1984 to make his own "Machines" stable with Korean wrestler Yang Seung-hi and veteran Yasu Fuji as Strong Machine #2 and Strong Machine #3 respectively, but this version of the stable did not have the exposure or push of their American counterparts.
  • Fake Nationality: His gimmick as Sonny Two Rivers was a Native American like Wahoo Mc Daniel.
  • Finishing Move: Majin Fusha Gatame (Hammerlock Suplex)
  • I Have Many Names: Went by his own name, Super Strong Machine and Black Strong Machine.
  • I Know Judo: And Bodybuilding.
  • Non-Action Guy: Did not compete for RINGS.
  • Power Stable: Seigigun.
  • Red Baron: "Kokoro Yasashiki Buraikan" ("The Kind-Hearted Ruffian"), "Senritsu no Satsujin Majin" ("Horror Murder Genie"), "Aogigun no Meisanbo" ("The Strategist of Blue Justice Army"), "Kikai no Naka no Kikai" ("Machine from Machine").
  • Retired Badass Teacher: He now works as a trainer at the NJPW dojo.
  • Ring Oldies: Hirata was still an active wrestler into his 50s.
  • Special Guest: Was present for Akira Maeda’s retirement.

Konno Hiroshi

Hideki Hosaka

Minoki Ichihara

"I fight only for what is inside me."

Takahito Iida

Shigeo Imai

Wataru Imamura

Kazuyoshi Ishii

  • The Apprentice: Under Karate master Hideyuki Ashihara.
  • Ascended Fan Boy: Was inspired by a Sonny Chiba film to pursue Kyokushin Karate.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: In 1981, Kazuyoshi Ishii established the International Practical Karate Federation Seidokaikan (later World Seidokaikan and became the Kancho (Grandmaster) of Seidokaikan. In 1983, Ishii became the first Chairman of the newly formed All Japan Budo Promotion Association.
  • Cool Teacher: First opened a Kyokushin dojo when he was 16. He has trained Seidokaikan karatekas including Takeo Nakayama, Nobuaki Kakuda, Masaaki Satake, Toshiyuki Atokawa, Toshiyuki Yanagisawa, Akio Mori (Musashi), Arne Soldwedel, Andy Hug, Adam Watt, Michael Thompson, Sam Greco, Takeru Yokawa, Kin Taiei, etc.
  • I Know Karate: A Kyokushin and Ashihara Karate black belt.
  • Non-Action Guy: Never fought in RINGS, but was a cornerman for his fighters.
  • Start My Own: Founded the Seidokaikan style of Karate and the Kickboxing promotion K-1.

Gen Isono

Nobuki Iwashita

Nobuaki Kakuda

"Competition is the destruction of the body and the building of a strong soul."

  • The Apprentice: To Kazuyoshi Ishii.
  • Ascended Fan Boy: He is a fan of Fist of the North Star and named his son Kenshiro and daughter Yuria after those characters and even got to voice a character in the prequel anime series Fist of the Blue Sky.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: In 2003, as a result of prosecutorial objections of K-1, founder Kazuyoshi Ishii departed and Kakuda became a co-owner of the organization. In addition, he served as executive producer and Chairman of the Committee. He is also Vice-chairman of the Seidokaikan Organization. He was also the captain of his university's karate club.
  • Bouncer: Was once a bouncer in a Nara public bath mostly to keep Yakuza out from scaring the bathers with their tattoos.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: In 2001, he broke the Guinness world record in breaking baseball bats with his shin within one minute with 27 bats. In 2002, he broke it again with 33 bats. On 12 February 2009, he broke it yet again with 54 bats. His record was eventually beaten by German martial artist Kerim Duygu, who managed to break 65 bats in 2017.
  • Combat Referee: In K-1.
  • Cool Old Guy: Was the oldest guy competing in K-1 events.
  • Cool Teacher: Once had his own dojo, but went bankrupt after 2 years. He is also a licensed High School English teacher.
  • Counter-Attack: Is primarily a defensive fighter, his style and technique having been molded by his career in karate. Able to absorb a lot of punishment, his plan of action has been to wait for an opening before attacking with high precision. This approach has especially advantaged him over inexperienced fighters who mistake his defensiveness for weakness and consequently fail to anticipate the counterattack.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Masaaki Satake stated that apparently no one from Kakuda's generation at the Seidokaikan dojo likes him.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: His KO wins in Kickboxing usually come from his punches, though he is no slouch in the kicking department.
  • Guest Fighter: From the Seidokaikan organization.
  • Hold Up Your Score: Also served as a kickboxing judge.
  • Hidden Depths: He is a talented dancer with speciality in tango and rumba, he won the 2006 Japanese edition of Dancing with the Stars. He also can sing, he even narrated and sung the ending theme (Muscle Beat) to Kinnikuman Nisei Movie 1.
  • The Idiot from Osaka: From the city of Sakai.
  • I Know Karate: A 6th dan Seidokaikan style black belt and also had training in Kyokushin. He is also a 2nd dan black belt in Shorinji kempo.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Was once beaten up by either 6 or 7 kids for apparently no reason at the age of 10, this is what motivated him into the martial arts.
  • Omniglot: Besides Japanese, he is fluent in English (even taught it at high school level) French, and has some knowledge of Thai and Korean.
  • One-Hit Kill: His first punch knockout win over American mixed martial artist Mavrick at 0:56 seconds in the K-1 Fields Europe GP 2005.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Was one of the shortest K-1 competitors at 5ft 9.
  • Red Baron: "The Bushido Bulldozer",
"Ai to Namida to Kandō no Naniwa Otoko" ("Naniwa Man of Love, Tears, & Emotion").
  • Religious Bruiser: While his actual beliefs are not well known, he is superstitious, believing in ghosts and spirits and possessing a variety of charms, including a stone from the emperor's grave.
  • The Scrappy: Not as a fighter, but as a referee, particularly when refereeing Bob Sapp fights. He even got banned from refereeing in United States, as everybody could see he was there clearly to protect Sapp and nothing more.
  • The Worf Effect: The only guy to lose to Akebono in Kickboxing. He often played the role of K-1’s gatekeeper by testing the organization’s new or junior fighters.

Aziz Karaoglu

Koichiro Kimura

"I’m not particularly concerned about there not being rules. The lack of rules is a rule itself."

  • Alliterative Name
  • The Apprentice: To Hidetaka Aso. He also trained under Yuichi Watanabe for Vale Tudo Japan 1995.
  • Canon Immigrant / Guest Fighter: From Submission Arts Wrestling.
  • Combat Referee: Served as one in Smackgirl.
  • Graceful Loser: After his lose to Rickson Gracie, he said he felt honored to have even been in the same ring with him.
  • Hope Spot: When Todd Hays dropped out of Vale Tudo Japan due to injury, Koichiro avenged his lose with a win over Wayne Emons to go on to face Rickson Gracie.
  • I Know Submission Arts Wrestling: Competed in events before coming to RINGS and Vale Tudo Japan 1995. He also said to had trained in Greco-Roman wrestling before his SAW training. He also once competed in a Daido Juku event.
  • Leotard of Power: Wore a Submission Arts Wrestling designed one in RINGS.
  • Shocking Defeat Legacy: He is best known for losing to Todd Hays & Rickson Gracie in the Vale Tude Japan 1995.
  • Start My Own: Founded a number of women's MMA promotions like Smackgirl, AX and the women's division of Shooto; G-Shooto, which gave rise to MMA fighters like Megumi Fujii.
  • Tender Tears: As shown in the Choke documentary, he cried these after his losses to Todd Hays and Rickson Gracie.
  • The Worf Effect: Lose to Todd Hays, an American bobsledder and kickboxer by submission in the first round of Vale Tudo Japan 1995.
  • Yakuza: Played one in the film Ryū ga Gotoku Gekijōban (Yakuza: Like a Dragon in English).

Sokun Koh

"Koh was one of the early standout students of the Wajyutsu Keisyukai school of fighting, where he was mentored by Yoshinori Nishi, an apprentice of Masahiko Kimura himself, the man who planted the seed that would one day sprout into the sport of MMA by traveling to Brazil and defeating Helio Gracie. Wajyutsu Keisyukai was one of the first schools to transition from traditional martial arts into MMA, shifting from its judo/karate background into a full-fledged vale tudo academy. It was overshadowed by the Takada Dojo, Krazy Bee and other high-profile schools, but it turned out a number of extremely tough, important fighters, including Kotetsu Boku, Eiji Mitsuoka, Daiju Takase, Roxanne Modafferi, Keita Nakamura, Caol Uno, Yushin Okami and Mr. Pride himself, Akira Shoji. At the height of its power, it was a murderer's row of talent. Sokun Koh was one of the first people to show the world how good its fighters could be. He made his debut in Fighting Network RINGS, handling and defeating veteran grappler Ryuki Ueyama, before coming to America for a pair of fights in King of the Cage with a close loss to future UFC vet Floyd Sword and a close win over Sean Gray. When Pride started their regional Pride: The Best series they reached out to the Wajyutsu Keisyukai for fighters and Koh was one of the first they volunteered. He immediately made good on his potential, fighting notoriously tough journeyman Amir Rahnavardi at Pride: The Best Vol. 1 and violently knocking him out, then returning at Vol. 2 in a battle against "Dirty" Bob Schrijber, a champion kickboxer with eight times the experience and a forty-pound weight advantage—and he still went toe to toe and punch for punch with him, and scraped out a split decision victory. Koh was a promising prospect within the early MMA community. Japanese fighters at higher weight classes were already a rare breed, and virtually all of them were grapplers or professional wrestlers with only minimal standup ability: Koh's smooth striking, well-rounded game and outright grit made him an exciting fighter to watch, and with a solid team around him, a 2-0 record in Pride and a 4-1 record overall, people were eager to see what was next for him. The answer, as it turned out, was retirement. Sokun Koh never fought again. I've tried to find any information on why Koh left the game or what he did afterwards, and I've come up with absolutely nothing. The man pulled an Andy Dufresne. It's a shame: He had all the tools to be a star, and the Japanese MMA boom was just a year away. Whatever he left the sport for, I hope he's happy and healthy."
— A profile of Koh from a Fire Pro Wrestling user CarlCX from

Lazaro Lazaro

Takahashi Makoto

Valerij Matvejev

Hideaki Mikata

Hidetaka Monma

  • The Apprentice: To Yoshinori Nishi.
  • Bishōnen: He is very popular with female fans for this reason.
  • Cool Teacher: Founded his own dojo, Wajutsu Keishukai Brightness Monma Dojo.
  • Guest Fighter: From Wajutsu Keishukai.
  • Identical Stranger: His face bared a resemblance to Ricardo Arona, which he why he is sometimes referred to as the "Japanese Arona".
  • I Know Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: As well as Japanese jujitsu and trained at the Daidōjuku-based Wajutsu Keishukai.
  • Red Baron: "Mon-sama", "Wasei Arōna" ("Japanese Arona"), "Kanaami no Kikōshi" ("Noble Prince of The Cage"), "Doranoana Kara no Shisha" ("Messenger from the Hole of the Tiger").

Kazayuki Mori

Mathieu Nicourt

  • The Apprentice: To Antoine Becaglia.
  • Cool Teacher: Founded and is the head trainer of Free Fight Academy. He also has a Bachelor's degree in Science and Technology of Physical and Sports Activities and also works as a PE teacher.
  • French Jerk: From Paris.
  • Guest Fighter: From Pancrace. He only fought in RINGS UK events and later Pancrase.
  • I Know Karate: As well as boxing, amateur wrestling, Japanese and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He trained for MMA at the Hybrid Pancrace Academy.
  • Red Baron: "The Warrior".

Yoshinori Nishi

"I recognized that refusing to fight for fear of defeat is shame. I want to aim my dream 'to be strong man' no matter what happens in my life."

Hubert Numrich

"We are all one!"

  • Braids of Action: Had these during his fighting career.
  • Cool Teacher: He founded the Sharks Gym and Raptors Gym and also taught at Alliance BJJ Frankfurt. He also has a video instructional series called Ultimate Fighting X-treme produced by Budo International.
  • Downer Ending: Died on 2 January 2020. He was 61 years old.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Ran a social project, described as a martial arts drug treatment program by taking addicts and training them in martial arts as he believes martial arts trains character. It didn't last as his sponsors cut his funding.
  • I Know Karate: A Kyokushin black belt and also did Kickboxing in which he was a 8-time German champion, 1-time European champion, and a bronze medalist at the W.A.K.O. World Championships 1993 in the superheavyweight division. He also knows boxing, Sambo, wrestling, Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
  • Ur-Example: One of the first fighters from Germany to compete in both Kickboxing and MMA.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Has wrestled for New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Pro Wrestling ZERO1.

Yasunori Okuda

Masaaki Satake

"Life is a fight. This is already determined under fate, it is an absolute fight. By overcoming the wall of destiny with a strong feeling to believe in yourself, people can open up new paths in their lives."

  • The Apprentice: To Kazuyoshi Ishii.
  • Catchphrase: Tōshi Tenshō Tsang Xi! ("Fighting Spirit Tsang Xi!"). Tsang Xi is actually a self-made word of his, which he describes as meaning, "cutting through fate and aiming for further heights through the fight of life".
  • Cool Teacher: Has his own dojo in Kyoto. He was also the president of a Cram School for business people called Heisei Bushidō.
  • Guest Fighter: From the Seidokaikan organization.
  • The Hero: Was the main character in a manga called Tonarinokakutō-ō.
  • The Idiot from Osaka: Pretty much his character in interviews, although a bit less idiotic than the average.
  • I Know Karate: Seidokaikan Karate black belt. Represented it in numerous Karate tournaments, winning most of them. He was also a Kickboxing champion and trained for MMA at Takada Dojo.
  • Kick Dude: Had one of the best low kicks among the K-1 fighters according to Peter Aerts and Ernesto Hoost.
  • The Nicknamer: Gave karateka and kickboxing star Musashi his ring name.
  • One of Us: Is a fan of Magic: The Gathering.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Used "You Could Be Mine" By Guns N' Roses in RINGS.
  • Red Baron: "Satayan", "Okite-Yaburi no Karateka" ("Law Breaking Karateka"), "Kaijūōji" ("Monster Prince").
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: The most egregious example was at the Seidokaikan 1st Towa Cup, after losing 2 rounds to fellow finalist Taiei Kin, the round ended with 2 judges ruling in favor of Kin, and one calling it a draw. Then when Kin was celebrating, there was some commotion at the judges table, and the ref had the fighters sit down while the judges had a meeting with founder, Kazuyoshi Ishii, and some of the other event officials, all the while Akira Maeda (who was in attendance) looked bewildered at the entire affair. After their pow-wow Ishii grabbed a microphone and announced another round would take place. A 3rd round did indeed take place, and this time Satake brought his a-game and won convincingly by every metric.
  • Start My Own: Formed his own martial art he calls "Sōgō Dageki Michi".
  • Stone Wall: Despite been a karateka, he had very good takedown defense. Maurice Smith of all people once commented that he was jealous of his skill in that area.
  • Stout Strength: Technically; he wasn't fat or overweighted, but he competed in the Super Heavyweight division in Karate and Kickboxing, a class typically associated to heftier dudes.
  • Student Council President: Was one in junior high school.

Walter Schnaubelt

  • Affectionate Nickname: "Wally" Schnaubelt.
  • The Apprentice: To Cameron Quinn.
  • Cool Teacher: He is a Kyokushin instructor now.
  • Genius Bruiser: Is a politician as a Member of Parliament for the Namatanai Open Electorate in the New Ireland Province of Papua New Guinea. He is a member and current National President of the National Alliance Party.
  • Guest Fighter: Had only one appearance in RINGS in a Kyokushin rules match against Vladimir Klementiev.
  • Hidden Depths: Runs SOS Security and The Kangaroo Motel at Magila Street, 6 Mile.
  • I Know Karate: 3rd dan Kyokushin black belt, An international champion, winning national titles places like Australia, Singapore, Canada, Wales, etc.
  • Spectacular Spinning: Threw several spinning kicks in his Kyokushin match with Vladimir Klementiev.
  • Start My Own: Founded the Papua New Guinea Mas Oyama Kyokushin Karate Association.

Minoru Shinkai

Kiyohito Sugata

Roman Sukoterin

Kazuo Tachi

Hiroya Takada

  • The Apprentice: To Hiroyuki Abe.
  • Cool Teacher: Became a wrestling coach for children.
  • Guest Fighter: From Wajyutsu Keisyukai RJW Central.
  • I Know Amateur Wrestling: In 1998 he was All-Japan Junior Olympic Games 83 kg class winner and in 1999 he was All Japan Student Wrestling 97 kg class tournament runner and won the Kanto human society tournament 97 kg class. He later trained at the Wajyutsu Keisyukai RJW Central gym.
  • Jobber: Was Fedor Emelinenko's first MMA opponent in Japan, KO'ed in 12 seconds and was also one in Pancrase.
  • Leotard of Power: Wore one in Pancrase.

Atsushi Tamaki

Kevin Thompson

"I just do Karate."

  • The Apprentice: To Karate masters Karriem Abdallah, Chuck Merriman and Don Rodriquez.
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: Was the captain of the John Paul Mitchell Team, the most successful sport karate team in modern tournament competition.
  • Badass Family: His brothers Mylo and Earl were also karatekas.
  • Cool Teacher: Taught out of a dojo in New Jersey called the Shakil’s School of Martial Arts.
  • Downer Ending: Died on 8 January 2020, he was 58 years old.
  • Handicapped Badass: Suffered from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) since 2012 but still taught karate until his condition worsened.
  • I Know Karate: Was considered a prodigy and became a black belt at the age of 10. Since 1972, Thompson had amassed over 100 trophies from martial arts competitions and is considered the most accomplished sport karateka ever.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Was 5ft 5 and dominated the sport karate world.
  • Red Baron: "Lil K.A., The 8th Wonder of The World".
  • Scary Black Man

Nobuhiro Tsurumaki

Adam Watt

  • The Apprentice: To Kazuyoshi Ishii.
  • Awesome Aussie
  • Guest Fighter: Had 2 Kickboxing matches in RINGS with Hans Nijman and Peter Aerts representing the Seidokaikan organization.
  • Hidden Depths: As a teenager he loved playing school boy rugby and played at state level. He also was a junior surf life saver and won two gold medals at the national rowing championship.
  • I Know Karate: Seidokaikan Karate, he also knows Kickboxing, and boxing. Before those he learned Zen Chi Ryu.
  • Instant Expert: After only six months of extreme Karate training at Master Ishii’s dojo he entered the Seido-Kia Karate world tournament open division and reached the finals while wearing a white belt wrapped around his gi. The reality of a white belt beating some of the world’s best black belt Karate fighters astounded the fans and his fellow competitors. Not surprisingly, Adam was awarded a black belt soon after.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Used Yngwie Malmsteen's "Teaser" in RINGS.
  • Red Baron: "Lights Out".
  • Spectacular Spinning: Knocked out Nobuki Iwashita with a spinning backfist.
  • Ur-Example: The first person in the world to ever fight for world Karate, Kickboxing and boxing titles.

Willie Williams

Shigeru Yasuki