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Nobuhiko Takada ( , born April 12, 1962) is a Japanese mixed martial arts fighter and professional wrestler. He is best known for helping to popularize shoot-style professional wrestling, as one of the biggest stars of the Universal Wrestling Federation and Union of Wrestling Force International in the '80s and '90s. He has also competed for PRIDE Fighting Championships and New Japan Pro Wrestling. Presently, he is the owner of the HUSTLE Wrestling Organization.

Early Years: New Japan, UWF, and Newborn UWF

Nobuhiko Takada made his professional wrestling debut in 1981 against Norio Honaga, for New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he started his career as a Junior Heavyweight. He left NJPW in 1984, along with Rusher Kimura, Akira Maeda, Ryuma Go, Mach Hayato, and Gran Hamada, to form the original Universal Wrestling Federation.

The original UWF dissolved in 1986. Takada and Akira Maeda returned to NJPW and formed a UWF stable. Only a few months later, Takada defeated Shiro Koshinaka to capture the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, which he held for four months. In 1987, Takada moved to the Heavyweight ranks. Along with Akira Maeda, he won the IWGP Tag Team Championship from rival, Koshinaka & Keiji Muto. He left NJPW in 1988 to form the second incarnation of the Universal Wrestling Federation called Newborn UWF, becoming one of its top stars.

Leader of the UWFI Boom

In 1990, Newborn UWF closed its doors. Takada formed the Union of Wrestling Force International, using former UWF wrestlers, while Maeda formed Fighting Network RINGS, and Fujiwara formed Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi. As the top star of the UWFI, Takada had feuds with Gary Albright and Vader. In 1992, Takada was awarded an old NWA World Heavyweight Title belt by Lou Thesz, after defeating Albright, and was proclaimed the "Real Pro-Wrestling World Heavyweight Champion". He defended the title until Thesz withdrew the belt in 1995, losing the Title once, to Super Vader. The high point of his reign came on December 5, 1993, when he defeated Super Vader before 46,168 fans at Tokyo's Meiji-Jingu Stadiummarker.

Return to New Japan

In 1995, Takada returned to NJPW as the key figure in the landmark New Japan vs UWFI program. On October 9, 1995, Takada's match against IWGP Champion, Keiji Mutoh, drew 67,000 fans to the Tokyo Dome, drawing the largest crowd and gate in Japanese Wrestling history, at the time. Three months later, Takada defeated Mutoh in a rematch, before 64,000 fans, to capture the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, becoming the only wrestler to hold all three major New Japan Titles. Takada dropped the Title to Shinya Hashimoto on April 29, 1996, drawing a crowd of 65,000 and a gate of $5.7 million. When it was all said and done, the New Japan vs UWFI was the biggest moneymaking feud in Japanese pro-wrestling history.

Transition to MMA

In 1996, the UWFI folded after the failure of the UWFI-WAR feud. Takada entered the world of mixed martial arts by joining PRIDE Fighting Championships.

Though Takada's Submission Arts Wrestling skills were never doubted either by the Japanese public or the matchmakers, it was his conditioning that would make the essential difference. Takada, being in his 30s at the time of his debut and in less than perfect conditioning, owing to the grueling Japanese pro wrestling circuit, posed little challenge for the experienced, well conditioned mixed martial arts fighters.

Nobuhiko Takada's very debut in MMA was against Rickson Gracie, which ended in Gracie winning via armbar. Takada would then go on to finish Kyle Sturgeon by a heel hook at PRIDE 3. There is some suspicion among fans that the Sturgeon match was a "work", especially considering that the match with Takada was Kyle Sturgeon's first and last MMA match. Takada wanted a rematch with Rickson Gracie, to which Gracie agreed, saying that "I feel Takada is a warrior and deserves the chance to try and redeem himself"[196980]. The match however, ended by Takada losing via armbar in a match that lasted 9 minutes and 30 seconds. Takada fought his next match at PRIDE 5, against Mark Coleman. Though thought to be the much better fighter, Coleman was caught by a heel hook from Takada and submitted. The validity of this fight has been questioned by many fans but there has never been hard evidence either way. Takada was then pitted against Mark Kerr, a freestyle wrestler with similar ground and pound fighting style as Mark Coleman. However, Kerr was able to slip on a submission hold and make Takada tap out in just over 3 minutes at PRIDE 6. Then at PRIDE 7 he beat Alexander Otsuka by a TKO when he put him in a rear naked choke and passed out and the referee stopped the fight (the fight was removed from the Pride 7 DVD).Takada competed in PRIDE's Grand Prix 2000 opening round. He was pitted against Royce Gracie - the match went the distance and to a decision. The Brazilian master could neither control nor submit Takada in the assigned 15-minute time limit. However, the judges ruled in favor of Gracie and he advanced to the next round. Takada's next MMA event participation was in PRIDE 11, where he lost to a young Igor Vovchanchyn via submission (strikes). Nobuhiko Takada would then go on to draw the likes of Mike Bernardo and Mirko Filipović before entering his final match against former student, Kiyoshi Tamura (Tamura won by a KO).

Mixed martial arts record

Result Opponent Record Method Event Date Round Location Time
xLose 2-6-2 Kiyoshi Tamura KO (Punch) PRIDE 23 November 24, 2002 2 1:01 Tokyomarker, Japanmarker
Draw 2-5-2 Mike Bernardo Decision (Unanimous) Inoki Bomb-Ba-Ye December 31, 2001 3 3:00 Saitama, Japanmarker
Draw 2-5-1 Mirko Filipovic Decision (Unanimous) PRIDE 17 November 3, 2001 3 5:00 Tokyomarker, Japanmarker
xLose 2-5 Igor Vovchanchyn Submission (Strikes) PRIDE 11 October 31, 2000 2 3:18 Osaka, Japanmarker
xLose 2-4 Royce Gracie Decision (Unanimous) PRIDE Grand Prix 2000 Opening Round January 30, 2000 1 15:00 Tokyomarker, Japanmarker
xLose 2-3 Mark Kerr Submission (Kimura) PRIDE 6 July 4, 1999 1 3:05 Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japanmarker
xWin 2-2 Mark Coleman Submission (Heel Hook) PRIDE 5 April 29, 1999 1 15:00 Nagoya, Japanmarker
xLose 1-2 Rickson Gracie Submission (Armbar) PRIDE 4 October 11, 1998 1 9:28 Tokyomarker, Japanmarker
xWin 1-1 Kyle Sturgeon Submission (Heel Hook) PRIDE 3 June 30, 1998 1 2:17 Tokyomarker, Japanmarker
xLose 0-1 Rickson Gracie Submission (Armbar) PRIDE 1 October 11, 1997 1 4:47 Tokyomarker, Japanmarker

Post MMA contributions

Takada has an MMA dojo of his own, Takada Dojo, where he's helped train such fighters as Kazushi Sakuraba.

Takada is the figurehead of PRIDE Fighting Championships, as well as the president of the HUSTLE promotion in Japan, while also portraying as the main heel and leader of the "Takada Monster Army" under the name "Generalissimo Takada".

Takada returned to the ring at the HUSTLE-Aid show as The Esperanza, a wrestling cyborg, and made short work of his opponent TAJIRI. At HustleMania II, he defeated Razor Ramon HG in what was billed as HG's retirement match (HG continued wrestling for HUSTLE despite the billing), giving him a Tombstone Piledriver on the ramp after the match that caused "erectile dysfunction" to HG.

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments



External links

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