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Starting Over, Taking Over

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Kick. Submission. Suplex. Repeat.

"In the early 1980's a group of wrestlers electrified the Japanese pro-wrestling scene. At the height of their popularity they quit pro-wrestling and joined a new promotion called the U.W.F. Their style was called "SHOOTING" (and old wrestling term for when you mean to really do someone in). Combining elements of kickboxing, sambo, jiu-jitsu, and catch-as-catch-can wrestling into a new exciting, dangerous and deadly promotion, they began moving professional wrestling away from the theatrics and back toward sport. The addition of kicks and hitting created more action than had ever been seen before. Some of the members found the fighting too physically grueling and injury inducing. They retired from the ring or they went back to the pro-wrestling circuit. The remaining fighters regrouped and quickly rose to great popularity. At their peak they were able to sell out the 50,000+ seat Tokyo Dome in three hours (a feat the even UFC hasn't matched). People lined up the day before and slept in the streets to see them."
Ted Pelc, on the success of the UWF.
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As a whole

  • Anti-Hero Team: A promotion of (mostly) young punks who followed a man who had just kicked a NJPW honcho in the face and flipped Antonio Inoki off. As one can expect, they were enormously popular among teenagers.
  • Badass Crew: UWF Newborn agglutinated the best shooters of its time, including future MMA legends like Funaki, Suzuki, Tamura and Ken Shamrock.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Most of the main stars, and some of the lesser ones, could qualify as Mr. Fanservice. Not only those guys were rebel and strong, they also had the biggest female fandom outside of joshi wrestling.
  • Divided We Fall: Their ultimate fate as a promotion.
  • Dream Team: They were the biggest gate draws of his time and pretty much of all time in Japanese wrestling history. Their peak show broke records which NJPW and AJPW together had to wait several years to reach.
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  • Establishing Series Moment: This was the promotion that set the standard for shoot-style wrestling to follow.
  • Faction Motto: "Whatever happens, we will not give up."
  • Five-Man Band: In this incarnation.
    • The Leader: Akira Maeda of course.
    • The Lancer: Nobuhiko Takada, as this was when he started to gain popularity and act as a foil to Maeda.
    • The Smart Guy: Kazuo Yamazaki, again. Yoji Anjo as well, since he adopted a more eccentric image for himself, wearing zebra tights and bondage gear and using heelish sneaky tactics in the ring.
    • The Big Guy: Tatsuo Nakano, since he was the biggest guy out of everyone.
    • The Chick: Shigeo Miyato, since he was the smallest guy and the least successful in wrestling.
    • Sixth Ranger: Yoshiaki Fujiwara, since he stuck with NJPW until after Newborn had put on a few shows.
    • Tagalong Kid: Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki, since they followed Fujiwara from NJPW as rookies.
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    • Man Behind the Man: Shinzo Jin and Masami Soranaka, the former as the promotion’s president and the latter as the main referee and booker for the American wrestlers.
  • Power Trio: Maeda, Takada and Fujiwara this time.
  • Spin-Off: After Newborn closed the staff divided into three promotions; Union of Wrestling Forces International, Fighting Network RINGS, and Pro Wrestling Fujiwara-Gumi.
  • Take That!: Apparently the use of Kickboxing and shootboxing bouts and the mixed styles fights against kickboxers are supposedly one to Satoru Sayama and his Shooto organisation.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: The UWF in this promotion stands for nothing.

    open/close all folders 

    UWF Newborn natives 

Tamotsu Ebina

  • The Apprentice: To Akira Maeda.
  • Cool Teacher: Runs a fitness gym.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Was injured before he could debut at any UWF event.
  • Toku: He developed Chōjin Neiger ("Super-God Neiger"), a local hero from Nikaho, Akita Prefecture, a fictional superhero who represents the region and is depicted as a tokusatsu hero. He also worked on Ryujin Mabuyer, a Japanese tokusatsu television series which is based on the adventures of a local hero of Okinawa Prefecture of the same name and he even made an appearance as his creation, Chōjin Neiger in Ryujin Mabuyer the Movie: Nanatsu no Mabui.
  • Unknown Character: He was only a trainee at the UWF Dojo and never wrestled at any events.

Takaku/Yusuke Fuke

Masakatsu Funaki

Nobuyuki Furuta

Kazuo Horiguchi

  • Downer Ending: Died after he got into a training accident, which put him in a coma with convulsions and died after being taken to the hospital, he was only 18 years old. UWF had a memorial service for him at the UWF ROAD show on February 27, 1990.
  • Unknown Character: Was a trainee at the Newborn UWF dojo and other than his death, there isn't much information on him.

Masahito Kakihara

Koichi Kawasaki

  • Alliterative Name
  • The Chessmaster: One of the most important bookers of pro wrestling and MMA, he was a booker for UWF Newborn, Super World of Sports, Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi, RINGS, Pancrase, Shootboxing, PRIDE, DREAM, TKO, K-1, UFC, WEC, Elite XC, KOTC, HERO'S, Cage Force, DOG, Fin Fight Festival, Art of War in China, and ADCC Japan. He runs BOOKER K Co,Ltd. the premier fight management agency serving the mixed martial arts community.
  • Non-Action Guy: Was only a match booker.
  • Promoted Fan Boy: Was a UWF fan before his job as a booker.
  • Red Baron: "Booker K".

Masaomi Morishige

Tsunehito Naito

Hideo Norota

  • The Medic: A physical therapist of Tokyo Police Hospital from 1969 to 2004. He was the ring doctor of UWF Newborn and RINGS where he was also a medical advisor. He now runs the Fighting Medical Association and the Medical Crossing Total Office.
  • Red Baron: "The Japanese Fight Doctor".
  • Spell My Name with an "S": His full name in Japanese can be written in two ways, "野呂田 秀夫" or "のろた ひでお".

Makoto Ohe

  • The Ace: Arguably the best kickboxer of UWF-i.
  • The Apprentice: To Caesar Takeshi.
  • Badass Teacher: He teaches Kickboxing at the UWF Snakepit. He also was a kickboxing coach for Kiyoshi Tamura's U-FILE Camp and for Shoot Boxing Shinroku Gym.
  • Canon Immigrant / Early-Bird Cameo: Had a Kickboxing match in UWF Newborn before officially joining the UWF guys. He was originally with the Shootboxing organization.
  • Combat Commentator: Was one for FIGHTING TV Samurai for Kickboxing bouts.
  • I Know Kickboxing: A champion of the sport. He also knows shootboxing and was a champion at that as well, and went to Thailand to train in Muay Thai. He also briefly trained in shoot wrestling at the Super Tiger Gym under Satoru Sayama.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Since UWF-i was a pro wrestling promotion many people forget that the UWF-i was unique in having and showing legit Kickboxing matches with legit title matches, and had kickboxers that represented the UWF-i that were legit champions of the sport. Also these guys were kickboxers and not pro wrestlers.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Ohe, Oue or Oe?
  • Wrestling Family: Is married to joshi wrestler Momoe Nakanishi, whose father Shigezo, was also involved in pro wrestling as the owner of the Japan Pro-Wrestling 2000 promotion.

Minoru Suzuki

Kiyoshi Tamura

    UWF Newborn gaijins 

Bob Backlund

Johnny Barnett

"Barrett is an early 90's Florida indy worker who was an early DDP tag partner and feuded with the Nasty Boys. Somehow he ended up in UWF 2 working as a Greco guy. All of his earliest UWF matches are filled with 3 Stooges style selling and dropkicks, so of course I loved them. [...] By 1991 Barrett had gotten the hang of working the style and is actually a really great shootstyle monster, kind of like Gary Albright with takedowns instead of suplexes."
— Phil Schneider, blogger for http://segundacaida.blogspot.co.uk/.

Chris Dolman

"There's a reason why they call him the Red Demon. He is not a fighter, he is a street fighter."
— Tadashi Takeuchi, Japanese journalist.

"Fighting is my life."
— Chris Dolman

  • The Ace: A multiple Judo and sambo medalist, the only 10th dan black belt in Kyokushin under Jon Bluming and powerlifting champion. One of the strongest European grapplers ever, he was the first non-Russian in stealing world sambo tournaments, the only guy who did not get curbstomped by the all-powerful Russian team in the 1974 European Judo Championships, and one of the most feared bouncers in the Amsterdam underground.
  • The Apprentice: Of Jon Bluming, who also trained his friend Willem Ruska.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Was the leader of the Dutch shootfighting team in RINGS.
  • Badass Grandpa: Was in his mid 40s when he first showed up about in UWF Newborn at the May History event and about 50 when he retired.
  • Badass Teacher: He has trained 90% of the Dutch fighters of today, names like Alistair Overeem, Bas Rutten, Gilbert Yvel, Gegard Mousasi, and Peter Aerts.
  • Boring, but Practical: Favored the rear naked choke and similar holds over flashier techniques. His wrestling style in general was as ground-based as possible.
  • Bouncer: A very well known and feared one in Amsterdam.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: His performances on the pro wrestling ring were composed mostly of basic brawling, rest holds and looking tough. He is not the most entertaining wrestler to watch in RINGS tapes, especially with people like Han or Kohsaka next.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Although it is not know what happened exactly, Anton Geesink barred Dolman from his gym when Chris, infuriated for Geesink holding a hold longer than necessary in a sparring, did "something rude" to him in front of his students. Popular belief has Dolman trashing him in some dirty way. Another reason is probably because his teacher Jon Bluming and Anton Geesink had heat with each other, Geesink may have extended this to Dolman.
  • Combat Pragmatist: He only needed to see Akira Maeda's bandaged leg to knee it over and over when he had the opportunity.
  • Cool Old Guy: Most definitely.
  • Cool Teacher: Graduated and worked as a physical education teacher.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Has a weightlifting championship and even a national record.
  • The Dreaded: According to him and his teacher Jon Bluming, he challenged the Gracie family several times, and they never replied.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: He accompanied Willem Ruska during his match against Antonio Inoki in New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
  • Establishing Character Moment: His match with Kazuo Yamazaki, where he defended every takedown attempt easily, took leg kicks like they were nothing and dominated Yamazaki on the ground establishing himself as a foe to fear to the Japanese.
    • His debut match with Akira Maeda where while he lost, caused some serious trouble for Maeda when it came to grappling, one of the few ganjins to do so.
  • I Know Sambo and Judo: And wrestling, and Karate, and Kickboxing...
  • Mighty Glacier: Was slow, but very tough and with many tricks up his sleeve.
  • Only Sane Man: He certainly looked it when served as judge to the fight between Ricardo Arona and Andrei Kopylov at the King of Kings Block B. Chris almost facepalmed when Kopylov characteristically gassed out after three minutes, and actually ranked his performance as 10 of 20 while the rest of judges attempted to save face for Andrei.
  • Red Baron: "Akaoni" ("The Red Demon" - this was actually a Shout-Out to Chris's training partner Willem Ruska, who went under the same nickname during his stint in the New Japan Pro-Wrestling), "The Dutch King of Free Fight", and "Holland no Juchin" ("The Authority from Holland").
  • Stone Wall: In Judo and sambo, his takedown defense was said to be otherworldly, to the point that only great champions like Ruska could aspire to throwing him down.
  • Stout Strength: Had quite a large waist.
  • Vitriolic Best Friends: With the aforementioned Ruska.

Gerard Gordeau

"What the fuck you say? They said no rules."
— Gordeau's e-mail answer to an interviwer about his performance in UFC.

  • A Friend in Need: He originally came to UFC 2 to corner Freek Hamaker, and was pissed off when his friend Remco Pardoel revealed to him at the very last moment that he was in the tournament as well, but he accepted to corner him and help him with his fights.
  • Alliterative Name
  • The Apprentice: To Harry Couzijn in Kyokushin Karate, Johan Vos in savate, Kickboxing and jujutsu, Romeo Kensmill and Rudy Koopmans in boxing.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Is the chairman/kancho of the International Budokai Organization.
  • Badass Biker: He rides motorcycles as a hobby.
  • Badass Family: Has two brothers, Al and Nikolai, both accomplished karatekas themselves. He also mentioned that his sisters are karatekas as well.
  • Badass Israeli: Has a Jewish background.
  • Badass Mustache / Porn Stache
  • Badass Teacher: Owns the Dojo Kamakura with his brothers. Currently trains K-1 fighter Mourad Bouzidi, along with Anil Dubar, and sometimes the Romanian champion Daniel Ghiță. He also had a hand in training Kazuyuki Fujita, trained Freek Hamaker since he was young, and was a trainer for Antonio Inoki's Universal Fighting-Arts Organization.
  • Bald of Evil
  • Bash Brothers: With his brothers Al and Nikolai.
  • Batter Up!: Keeps a baseball bat in his car for emergencies.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Suffered from it before Akira Maeda in a match in UWF.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: Was part of Naoya Ogawa's UFO entourage during the 1.4 Incident.
  • Bouncer: Has experience in being one in Holland.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When he was interviewed about eye gouging Yuki Nakai, he stated that if he was in the same situation again, he would still do the same thing. He also states that he never apologized to Nakai.
  • Combat Pragmatist: A brutal example. He bit Royce Gracie's ear in the first UFC event (though according to him, Royce was also fighting dirty, knowing Gordeau had a hand and a foot broken and attacking those parts) and eye gouged Sayama trainee Yuki Nakai to the point he ended up losing his eyesight. Incredibly enough, Gerard was never disqualified in competition, and he is actually the reason those techniques are forbidden in the modern MMA.
  • Cool Teacher: If his students are to be believed, he helps his students clean his dojo as he does not believe in Wax On, Wax Off, does not see his students as dojo cleaners, and because he also personally enjoys doing it.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: He was a pure kickboxer with no more fields of skill. While he might have had some training in Judo, it mostly served him to be Genre Savvy enough to know he had to remain standing against Royce Gracie, not to actually impede him from taking him down.
  • Curbstomp Battle: His first two fights in UFC 1 against sumo wrestler Teila Tuli and kickboxer Kevin Rosier. His third fight, against Royce Gracie, was also an one-sided affair, but this time in the receiving end.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: According to him, he and Royce Gracie trained together after 20 years and there wasn't any ill feelings about the biting incident.
  • Defeat Means Respect: He is very grateful that Yuki Nakai did not try to cripple him. He considers Nakai a great sportsman and respected his Determinator attitude. He even stated that they still greet each other as friends.
  • Determinator: Fought Royce Gracie in the UFC 1 finals with both hands and a foot broken.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: During a presumably worked match against Masaaki Satake in RINGS, Gordeau had his back turned towards Satake in a break when the Japanese came and kicked him hard In the Back. Gerard's response? Destroying Satake with punches and knees until a brawl broke up. It is unknown who shot on who during the match, but it was a point to remember.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Insiders and interviews with people in the first UFC event constantly point out that Gordeau was actually the most serene and professional fighter in the event, who always seemed to know what he was doing and was cool about it. He was the only fighter who didn't take part in an almost-riot during the ruleset briefing (riot which was calmed down by Teila Tuli of all people, by the way) and was seen calmly smoking a cigar and thinking on his next fight while doctors were tending his broken hand and wounded foot. He was even laconically quoted as "Americans talk too much" when he was asked.
  • Does Not Like Spam: Specifically pond loach. He stated he started disliking them when Akira Maeda took him to a restaurant during the UWF Newborn days and saw how live loaches were cooked in a pot.
  • Establishing Character Moment: His fight with Teila Tuli was one not just for himself but for the UFC.
    • His fight with Yuki Nakai established his reputation as one of the dirtiest and nastiest fighters of all time.
  • Freudian Excuse: Defied. He came from a poor family, his father died when he was young, and grew up in a bad neighborhood. He stated that his past didn't get him into the martial arts, he just wanted to prove to himself that he could do it. He even stated that anyone who complains about their past is stupid.
  • Go for the Eye: Used this on Yuki Nakai and half blinded him.
  • Gratuitous Nazis: Subverted. See Misblamed.
  • Hero Killer: He effectively ended Yuki Nakai's MMA career even though he lost the fight.
  • I Know Karate: An accomplished karateka (and not a savateur like UFC introduced him, although he did train in the art). He also has a background in boxing, Kickboxing, and according to sources, he started his career practising Judo and some kind of standup jujutsu before switching to striking arts.
  • Lean and Mean
  • Man Bites Man: Used this on Royce Gracie's ear.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Apparently, his students say he is a nice guy, when he is not in fighting capacity.
  • Misblamed: He was accused of being a Neo-Nazi by doing a Nazi salute before his first UFC fight and the fact he had a swastika tattoo on his right bicep and a bald head did not help him, in actuality he did a traditional savate salute. Also, Gordeau himself has Jewish ancestry, so he is far from being a Nazi skinhead.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: He was the one that started the brawl at the 1.4 Incident that got Kazunari Murakami hospitalized.
  • Non-Nazi Swastika: Has a swastika tattooed on his torso, which along his bald head and his status as one of the most infamous dirty fighters in the world has gained him some serious heat among Mixed Martial Arts fans. However, the swastika itself is actually part of a bigger tattoo which contains Buddhist art.
  • Odd Friendship: In real life with Bas Rutten.
  • Otaku: For Japanese culture, his tattoos are Japanese themed, he has a full set of samurai armour in his home, and his dojo has a life-sized poster of a Japanese woman in a kimono.
  • Pet the Dog: Gordeau accepted Freek Hamaker as his student when he was a young boy suffering from cancer who desired to be a martial artist.
  • Red Baron: "Kenkaya" ("The Brawler"). In English, "The 1st Ultimate Fighter", "The Undertaker from Hell".
  • Screwed by the Network: Believed he was originally Royce Gracie’s first round opponent at UFC 1, but that the promoters changed the card when they heard about his nasty reputation and that the fight doctors told Royce about the injuries he suffered before the finals. Whether he would have won the fight if he was fresh is another matter.
  • Smoking Is Cool: A hard smoker, he says he started smoking at 12 years old and that smoking should not affect one from being a top fighter.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: More like "Unskilled But Dirty" as he was quite clueless on the ground and had to play dirty in order avoid being brought to the ground and to escape holds. Ironically it never prevented him from losing anyway.
  • The Teetotaler: No really, despite being a heavy smoker, he states that he doesn't drink because he has no reason to get drunk.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: With Anil Dubar and Mourad Bouzidi, they are known as "The Golden Three" due to their successes in the international Kickboxing scene and K-1 in particular.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Has done pro wrestling for NJPW, UFO, Pro Wrestling Zero 1 and Big Mouth Loud.

Freek Hamaker

"Across the Octagon from Luster stands a stocky Dutchman in a red gi top who represents the Russian style of Sambo."
— Mike Naimark, UFC reviewer.

  • The Apprentice: To Chris Dolman and Gerard Gordeau.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: In UFC, he was billed as a champion in sambo and Greco-Roman wrestling. He trained both, but he wasn't a known champion in any; actually, he was a porn theater owner who happened to train martial arts.
  • I Know Sambo: And Greco-Roman wrestling, Karate and Kickboxing.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": His name is listed in UWF Newborn match lists as "Fred Hamaker," but he is thought to be actually Freek Hamaker of Ultimate Fighting Championship fame.
  • Stout Strength
  • Unknown Character: The first and only sambo representative in the early UFC, Hamaker's career in martial arts in shrouded in mystery. In his sole appearance in the company, he proceeded to win convincingly his first match against kung fu guy Thaddeus Luster, and then claim an injured hand to bow out of the tournament. Credit as the only grappling expert in the tournament aside Royce Gracie would then go to Hamaker's teammate Remco Pardoel, who also participated on the match and went to reach the semi-finals.

Kevin Kastelle

  • Alliterative Name
  • Badass Mustache / Porn Stache
  • Bouncer: A professional one.
  • Cool Teacher: The head instructor of World Taekwondo Academy after his master died.
  • I Know Taekwondo: Trained under Byung Yul Lee at his World Taekwondo Academy (at the time it was called Korean Karate Institute) as well as hapkido, is a black belt in both and he has competed in and won 3 U.S. National Taekwondo championships, an AAU National Championship, the 1984 Can-Am Games and the Olympic Sports Festival. He first started his martial arts training in Judo. He later learned boxing at University of Minnesota boxing Club and later at the West Suburban Boxing Club, was an undefeated North American Heavyweight Champion in Kickboxing with 15 fights, trained in Ninjitsu-Bugei Kai at the school of Inner Truth Martial Arts, kali and jeet kune do under Dan Inosanto, Aiki-Jitsu and Karate when he went to Japan, Korean swordfighting (kumbo), certified to provide baton & personal self-defense training to officers by The Minnesota Peace Officers Association, F.A.S.T. Defense under Bill Kipp, and shootfighting under Masami Soranaka and Bart Vale.
  • Jobber

Bert Kops Jr.

  • The Apprentice: To his father.
  • Badass Family: His father Bert Kops Sr is a 1984 World Sambo Championships bronze medalist.
  • Cool Teacher: He and his father own the Sportcentrum Kops where many fighters like Fedor Emelianenko and many guys from RINGS Holland trained at.
  • I Know Sambo: And boxing, Kickboxing and wrestling.

Duane Koslowski

  • Defeat Means Friendship: Back in UWF, Ken Shamrock once had to grapple for real with Duane in order to settle down who would win their impending worked match. After Ken made him tap out twice via heel hook, they became friends and Ken started to coach him in submission wrestling.
  • Identical Twins: With his brother Dennis.
  • I Know Greco-Roman Wrestling: Was on the American Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling team of 1988.
  • Wrestling Family: His brother Dennis is a Olympic Greco-Roman Wrestling bronze and silver medalist of 1988 and 1992.

MacDuff Roesch

Ken/Wayne Shamrock

Norman Smiley

Maurice Smith

"You punch like a girl."

  • Arch-Enemy: Minoru Suzuki, though rather in an one-sided light, as Smith never had a grudge with him. It seems Suzuki have put it past him as they were recently spotted hanging out with each other.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Averted, but slightly enforced in the interview before his fight with Mark Coleman to add some emotion.
  • Bald of Awesome
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Helped Frank Shamrock to form The Alliance when he left Lion's Den, as it was Frank who honored Ken's pact of teaching Smith grappling in exchange for striking.
  • Canon Immigrant: Was a professional kickboxer who challenged the UWF guys in mixed styles matches. He later became a regular fighter for Pancrase.
  • Chekhov's Skill: He was not just a kickboxer, he also knew a lot about cardio and vascular training by having worked with sports doctors, and his conditioning training was instrumental in Frank Shamrock' and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka's careers.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: After he lost to Ken Shamrock, he became friends with him and later got invited to train at the Lion's Den.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: Became the first kickboxer in defeating master wrestlers and grapplers.
  • Expy: Bas Rutten, another guy that was a pure kickboxer that was beating master wrestlers and grapplers when he first debuted then later worked on his grappling skills, both are Bald of Awesome and both beat Minoru Suzuki twice.
  • Fan Nickname: "Mo".
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Being a high level kickboxer, most of his MMA victories came from KO or TKO.
  • I Know Kickboxing: Yup, a champion of America. He also learned Karate, Taekwondo, and Wing Chun before starting kickboxing.
  • Never Be Hurt Again: Twice; he got knowledgeable in condition training after losing a fight by exhaustion, and later investigated Muay Thai and non-American Kickboxing styles when he knew by the bad way that leg kicks were dangerous.
  • Red Baron: "Kuroi Bakugekiki" ("The Black Bomber").
  • Scary Black Man: Not as big or physically imposing as most examples, but his kicks and punches were enough to scare opponents away from trading hits with him.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: He was a part of the Lion's Den when Ken Shamrock closed its doors to Frank, but he refused to ostracize him too and left the team to form The Alliance.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: With Frank Shamrock and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka in the Alliance team.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After suffering losses to Ken Shamrock and Bas Rutten, he seriously began training in submission defense with the Lion’s Den and later with The Alliance.

Bart Vale

"Bart Vale is synonymous with shootfighting, you can't talk about submission wrestling anywhere in America without hearing about this 6 ft 4 inch, 250 pound warrior and the style of mixed martial arts he pioneered."
— Black Belt Magazine, inducting Bart Vale into their Hall of Fame.

"I just like to hit people and watch them go down."
— Bart Vale

  • '80s Hair: A mullet hairdo, like straight out from the Black Belt magazine.
  • All-American Face: He acts like this.
  • The Apprentice: To Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Masami Soranaka.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Is the president of the International Shootfighting Association.
  • Badass Mustache / Porn Stache
  • Bouncer: Was one in Miami, Florida.
  • Bullying a Dragon: There is a rumor that when Bart was being promoted as "the man who knocked out Ken Shamrock" Ken himself heard of it and challenged Bart to a MMA match to shut him up. Bart didn't reply but he never used that achievement again.
  • Carpet of Virility
  • Cool Teacher: Teaches at the Tiger & Dragon Kenpo Karate School of Shootfighting. He was also a coach of a potential Olympic pankration team for the 2004 Olympic Games with guys Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn, though it never bared fruit as the Olympics didn't approve pankration as a sport.
  • Creator's Pet: In PWFG. He got pushed to be champion of the promotion and beat Yoshiaki Fujiwara twice, which may have been one of the many reasons the split that created Pancrase happened.
  • David vs. Goliath: He was Goliath when he was recruited to learn shoot wrestling, when he went to spar with his first sparring partner which he describes as like a kid compared to him and thought it was a joke. The "kid" proceeded to trash him with submissions and showed Bart that the fighting system was worth something.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: In shootfighting he wore the standard latex kneeboots, but in his MMA fights he went barefoot.
  • Does Not Like Spam: He says sushi makes him queasy.
  • Eagleland: Type 3.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: He was promoted in United States as "the man who knocked out Ken Shamrock" and they even played as if it were a real fight a clip of PWFG where he highkicked Ken in a worked match. He did face some great fighters who could have saved his reputation as valiant losing efforts, but his inability to finish cleanly the unskilled Mike Bitonio and his defeat to the hands of the heavily undersized K-1 Jobber Nobuaki Kakuda made clear that Vale was not as good as said.
  • Glass Cannon: Was a big guy who could strike decently and had some rudimentary grappling, but his defense overall was weak.
  • Guest Fighter: Most of his career was in UWF Newborn & PWFG, so his few appearances in RINGS may count.
  • He Also Did: Appeared in Yoshiaki Fujiwara's Submission Master instructional series to answer why people should learn from Fujiwara, along with a few clips of them sparring together.
  • I Know Karate: American Kenpo Karate to be exact. Recently became a 10th dan (American Kenpo's system of belt ranking is very different than the other Japanese martial arts rankings).
  • Irony: He was promoted in the United States as having never been seriously injured in his matches, in MMA and Kickboxing he was quite injury-prone. The reason he couldn't face Renzo Gracie in the WCC was because he lacerated his own head when headbutting Mike Bitonio, lost to Nobuaki Kakuda was because he fell and dislocated his arm, and lost to Dan Severn because he was suffered a cut to his head.
  • Insistent Terminology: Called the PWFG Championship Belt the "Shootfighting World Championship Belt".
  • Lightning Bruiser: Threw a lot of jumping kicks in his UWF days and was 6 ft 4. This is also the reason Masami Soranaka recruited him to learn shoot wrestling.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Infamously tried to pass in United States his worked matches in Japan as MMA fights, and a lot of people in the States bought it for a time, until he got in the cage and failed to prove his supposed badassery.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: He was one of the first complete fighters in America and had trained with some of the best guys, so he was not really a slouch, but he was not a superb fighter in a time in which you needed to be one in order to thrive. He also faced really strong opponents, like Dan Severn in MMA and Andy Hug in Kickboxing.
  • Red Baron: "American Ninja".
  • Use Your Head: Deconstructed - he headbutted Mike Bitonio so hard in their MMA fight that he lacerated his own head and couldn't continue in the night tournament.
  • Ur-Example: Founded shootfighting in the U.S.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Or rather in his shorts. Sometimes a gi top in tribute to world champion kickboxer Bill "Superfoot" Wallace.
  • The Worf Effect: Against Kazunari Murakami, who was though to be an inferior opponent, and was profiled as a dangerous contender after beating Vale.

Dick Vrij

"In 1989 Chris and I went to Japan. In 1995 we organised the last fight of Chris here in Amsterdam and the place was jam-packed. From there on it started with the events of Rings Holland here in Amsterdam. But I am not a guy who likes to pad myself on the chest, a lot of people wanted to see me fight and what I was capable of. That time I was also a doorman at the hottest club in Amsterdam and people where very curious if Dick Vrij could really fight. The first event was special because people did not know what to expect. I fought only one fight per year in Amsterdam, believe me that many people were looking forward to it. The event was sold out in no time."

  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Typically acted disrespectful towards his opponents, even doing the Bring It taunt rather often.
  • The Apprentice: To Chris Dolman and Thom Harinck.
  • Badass Teacher: He was a trainer for Beverwijk Top Team along with Hans Nijman until Nijman got killed and has his own fitness gym called Centrum De Meer.
  • Blood Knight
  • Bouncer: Was one before training with Chris Dolman.
  • The Brute: For Chris Dolman (and Jon Bluming, in real life).
  • Bullying a Dragon: While working a match with Kiyoshi Tamura in RINGS, Vrij became uncomfortable with Tamura's choke and raked his eye. Kiyoshi got angry and started beating him, so Vrij had to skip to the ending and tap out to save his life.
  • Combat Pragmatist: During his match with Yoji Anjo, he got out from a cross armbar by elbowing Anjo in the groin.
  • The Dreaded: He was quite a fearsome striker, and few opponents chose to trade strikes with him.
  • Engrish: Japanese captionists often got his last name as "Fly", as the two words sound similar ("Furai") in Japanese.
  • Expy: Tall, imposing and fair haired, with icy personality and hard strikes. Even if the similarities weren't intentional, Vrij would have made an awesome Ivan Drago in case Dolph Lundgren wasn't available.
  • Fake Ultimate Villain: Vrij was big, mean and incredibly imposing, and the Japanese press loved him because he looked like the bad guy of a kung fu flick, but he was actually not very good in MMA or shootfighting. That's why he fought in very few shoots, always with low level opponents, and even losing to them from occasion to occasion.
  • Heroic Build: 'roided up and such.
  • I Know Kickboxing: And Bodybuilding, duh. He trained at the Chakuriki Gym.
  • Jerkass: He was also known as a troublemaker backstage, being uncooperative in some matches, and once RINGS investigated him for usage of steroids.
  • Kick the Dog: He apparently had a discussion with bodybuilding legend Dorian Yates and knocked him out with a sucker punch. He was apparently still hitting him when Ed van Amsterdam came with reinforcements to defend Yates and Vrij was forced to retreat.
  • Mighty Glacier: A slow but hard hitter.
  • Multicolored Hair: Dyed like the Dutch flag. He is usually fair haired though.
  • Never Be Hurt Again: Was apparently bullied as a child, which got him interested in Bodybuilding and Kickboxing.
  • Pec Flex: His signature gesture before the fights.
  • Red Baron: Dick "Leon" Vrij, "Fighting Cyborg" or simply "Cyborg".
  • Shocking Defeat Legacy: His loss to Paul Varelans.
  • Shout-Out: His nickname was a reference to Terminator, because he basically looked like a Terminator himself. His other one, "Leon," is probably a reference to Blade Runner, which has a replicant (basically a human-like robot) that is also named Leon.
    • The character Leon from the Dead or Alive series seems to take his looks from Vrij.
  • The Stoic: Outside of fighting, inside however.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Was part of the Netherlands team along with Joop van Kasteel and Hans Nijman for the World Mega Battle Tournament of 1998.
  • Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object: Had a famous altercation with Mr. Olympia winner Dorian Yates in which Vrij punched him badly.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: As a pure kickboxer, he was rather clueless on the mat, and raw strength was his only hope to avoid being submitted if he was downed in a shootfight.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Lost his vale tudo fight against UFC dropout Paul Varelans due to inconsistent refereeing and an excessive amount of ephedrine on his organism needed for a foot injury.

Willy Wilhelm

  • Affectionate Nickname: The customers of his bar refer to him as "Big Will".
  • Alliterative Name
  • The Apprentice: To Willem Ruska, Peter Ooms, and Chris de Korte.
  • Badass Mustache / Porn Stache
  • Badass Teacher: Was a Judo trainer for the guys in RINGS Holland, most notably Willie Peeters.
  • Bouncer: Was rumored to have been one in Holland's Red Light District.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Stopped competing in Judo in 1987 after suffering a hernia.
  • Hidden Depths: He now runs a bar in Carvoeiro, Portugal called Round Up Saloon.
  • I Know Judo: Represented the Netherlands at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Won a silver in the 1983 World Judo Championships in the over 95 kg category and bronze in 1985 in the open category and was an European championships silver medalist in 1981, a bronze medalist in 1984, a gold medalist in 1986. He was also a 5 time military judo champion.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: He is a Christian.
  • Stout Strength: Had a wide waist as well. He has slimmed down in recent years though.

Wellington Wilkins Jr.

    Other fighters 

Trevor Clarke

Changpuek Kiatsongrit

  • Always Someone Better: Lost twice to Manson Gibson.
  • Cool Teacher: A Muay Thai trainer at the Sitpholek gym in Pattaya, Thailand.
  • Guest Fighter: Brought in for a Mixed Styles Fight against Yoji Anjo and a Kickboxing bout in UWFI with Hiromitsu Kanehara.
  • I Know Muay Thai: A 7 time world champion of the style.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse:
    • He fought in the K-2 Grand Prix '93 a tournament held by K-1 for light heavyweight fighters as the smallest fighter at the event weighing only 75 kg. He took out Rob Kaman in the quarter finals in their final fight together and made it to the finals with Ernesto Hoost. Changpuek managed to push Hoost into an extra round only to lose eventually via a head kick knockout.
    • Averted in Thailand, he found it increasingly difficult to get fights in his homeland where competitive bouts at tend to be at the lower weights.
  • Red Baron: "Crazy Elephant".
  • Ur-Example: He is credited as being one of the first Muay Thai fighters to go abroad and fight other fighters of other martial arts styles, often stronger and heavier than himself, bringing to the world an understanding of the effectiveness of Muay Thai.
  • Worthy Opponent: To Rob Kaman.

Hideokazu Mikaku

Katsumi Omura

Paryhap Premchai

Ri Sogi

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