Nobuhiko Takada

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Nobuhiko Takada
Born (1962-04-12) April 12, 1962 (age 52)
Isogo-ku, Yokohama
Nationality Japanese
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight 95 kg (209 lb; 14 st 13 lb)
Team Takada Dojo
Years active 1981 – 2002 (Professional wrestling)
1997 - 2002 (MMA)
Mixed martial arts record
Total 10
Wins 2
By submission 2
Losses 6
By knockout 1
By submission 4
By decision 1
Draws 2
Other information
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog

Nobuhiko Takada[1][2] (Japanese: 髙田延彦, born April 12, 1962) is a former[3] Japanese mixed martial arts fighter and professional wrestler. He was an executive of PRIDE Fighting Championships and founder of the HUSTLE Wrestling Organization.

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. Despite his irregular fight record and kayfabe politics, Takada is credited with the existence of PRIDE and the Japanese MMA boom.


Early Years: New Japan, UWF, and Newborn UWF[edit]

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 Mutoh. 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[edit]

In December 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 Super 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 Stadium.

Return to New Japan[edit]

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[edit]

In December 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 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. Further, Takada never had martial arts nor real fight training, and he had to rely in his shoot wrestling abilities to hold his own.

Nobuhiko Takada's debut in MMA was against Rickson Gracie, which ended in Gracie winning via armbar. Takada would then go on to finish kickboxer Kyle Sturgeon by a heel hook at PRIDE 3 in Sturgeon's first and last MMA match.[4] 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".[5] The rematch was held at PRIDE 4. The match, in which Takada gave a much better impression, ended with Takada again losing via armbar in a fight lasting 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. This fight is frequently accused of being fixed by MMA analysts.[6] Regarding his performance against Takada, Coleman said in an interview, "It was what it was. I needed to support my family. They guaranteed me another fight after that and I needed that security. It was what it was. I'm going to leave it at that."[7]

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). The Otsuka match is widely believed to have been a professional wrestling bout, and is not included in Takada's fight record on the Sherdog mixed martial arts website,[8] but it is in his PRIDE official record.[9]

Takada competed in the PRIDE 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 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).

After his MMA career, Takada manages his mixed martial arts association, Takada Dojo, where he has helped train such fighters as Kazushi Sakuraba. He was also the figurehead of the now defunct PRIDE Fighting Championships.


In 2004, Takada was made tas the president of the HUSTLE promotion in Japan, created by a coproduction between Dream Stage Entertainment and Pro Wrestling ZERO-ONE. He firstly appeared in a press conference previous to the first HUSTLE event along with fellow DSE directive Nobuyuki Sakakibara, who badmouthed the professional wrestling on behalf of the mixed martial arts. This caused the fury of Naoya Ogawa, who flipped the table and confronted them. To solve things, the event featured a battle between Ogawa's pro wrestling loyalists and Takada's MMA allies, who were called "Takada Monster Army". The night ended with Ogawa being pinned by Monster Army member Bill Goldberg thanks to a foreign interference, giving the first victory to Takada. The next event, Takada expanded his army and showed himself as Generalissimo Takada, a Yasunori Kato-esque character dressed in military outfit and gifted with supernatural powers. Generalissimo Takada presented himself not as Nobuhiko Takada, but an old friend of his, and proceeded to send his enforcers to beat up Naoya before his match against Matt Ghaffari. This marked the new view of HUSTLE, in which Takada and his evil forces battled Ogawa and his "HUSTLE Army" stable.

Takada returned to the ring in 2006 as The Esperanza, a supernatural wrestling cyborg created by Generalissimo Takada. The Esperanza made short work of his opponent TAJIRI and pinned him with Nobuhiko's trademark kick to the head. At HustleMania 2006, he defeated Razor Ramon HG in what was billed as (kayfabe) HG's retirement match, pinning him and giving him his own finisher, the 69 Driver, which caused "erectile dysfunction" to HG. The Esperanza was outlined as invincible until Hustlemania 2007, when he was surprisingly defeated by Wataru Sakata thanks to the magical aid of Sakata's wife Eiko Koike. The Esperanza's last match was at HUSTLE Aid 2009, when he was finally beaten by Magnum TOKYO. The same night, Generalissimo Takada shockingly announced his retire, revealing that his true goal was leaving an eternal mark in the pro wrestling, which he had accomplished thanks to HUSTLE. He appointed the reluctant TOKYO as the new director and shook hands with the HUSTLE Army members. However, a character named King RIKI intruded and challenged him, which led to a supernatural duel in which RIKI reflected Takada's attacks and mortally wounded the Generalissimo. The dying Takada then disappeared, declaring that HUSTLE would live forever. After that, the Monster Army was disbanded.

In wrestling[edit]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

  • Tokyo Sports
    • Best Tag Team of the Year (1986)- with Shiro Koshinaka[14]
    • Effort Prize (1983)[14]
    • Match of the Year (1996)- vs. Genichiro Tenryu on September 11[14]
    • Wrestler of the Year (1992)[14]

Mixed martial arts record[edit]

Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 3-6-2 Kiyoshi Tamura KO (punch) PRIDE 23 November 24, 2002 2 1:00 Tokyo, Japan
Draw 3-5-2 Mike Bernardo Decision (unanimous) Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2001 December 31, 2001 3 3:00 Saitama, Japan
Draw 3-5-1 Mirko Filipovic Decision (unanimous) PRIDE 17 November 3, 2001 4 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 3-5 Igor Vovchanchyn Submission (strikes) PRIDE 11 October 31, 2000 2 3:18 Osaka, Japan
Loss 3-4 Royce Gracie Decision (unanimous) PRIDE Grand Prix 2000 Opening Round January 30, 2000 1 15:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 3-3 Alexander Otsuka Submission (rear naked choke) PRIDE 7 September 12, 1999 1 9:28 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 2-3 Mark Kerr Submission (kimura) PRIDE 6 July 4, 1999 1 3:05 Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
Win 2-2 Mark Coleman Submission (heel hook) PRIDE 5 April 29, 1999 2 1:44 Nagoya, Japan
Loss 1-2 Rickson Gracie Submission (armbar) PRIDE 4 October 11, 1998 1 9:28 Tokyo, Japan
Win 1-1 Kyle Sturgeon Submission (heel hook) PRIDE 3 June 24, 1998 1 2:17 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 0-1 Rickson Gracie Submission (armbar) PRIDE 1 October 11, 1997 1 2:32 Tokyo, Japan


Year Title Role
1989 Yawara! Himself
2006 Simsons Noriyuki Motoyima
2007 Calling You Mr. Yamaguchi
2010 Watashi no Yasashiku nai Senpai Makoto Iriomote
2010 Bokutachi no Play Ball Himself
2012 Mou Yuukai Nante Shinai Quick service delivery man
2014 Idai Naru, Shurarabon Nami Natsume

Video games[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Nobuhiko Takada profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Profile at Puroresu Central". Puroresu Central. Retrieved 2012-05-11. 
  3. ^ "高田道場オフィシャルサイト - 高田延彦/NOBUHIKO TAKADA - プロフィール". Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  4. ^ "Kyle Sturgeon MMA Stats, Pictures, News, Videos, Biography". 1963-02-01. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ "Not For the Ages: Mark Coleman vs. Nobuhiko Takada and a brief history of fight fixing". 2013-07-12. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ "Nobuhiko Takada MMA Stats, Pictures, News, Videos, Biography". 1962-04-12. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  9. ^ "PRIDEFC Official Website". Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  10. ^ a b "UWF-I Commercial Tape on 10/23/92". Puroresu Central. Retrieved 2012-12-28. 
  11. ^ "Nobuhiko Takada « Wrestlers Database « CAGEMATCH - The Internet Wrestling Database". 2009-07-26. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  12. ^ [3][dead link]
  13. ^ [4][dead link]
  14. ^ a b c d [5][dead link]
  15. ^ "Saikyou: Takada Nobuhiko Release Information for Super Nintendo". GameFAQs. 1995-12-27. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 

External links[edit]