April 12, 1962 |
|Height||1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)|
|Weight||95 kg (209 lb; 14 st 13 lb)|
|Years active||1981 – 2002 (Professional wrestling)
1997 - 2002 (MMA)
|Mixed martial arts record|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
Nobuhiko Takada (Japanese: 髙田延彦, born April 12, 1962) is a Japanese mixed martial arts fighter and professional wrestler. He was the founder of PRIDE Fighting Championships and 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, and is widely considered to be one of the main promotors of mixed martial arts both nationally and internationally.
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 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 
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 
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 
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. 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". The rematch was held at PRIDE 4. The match 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. 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."
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 highly respected Sherdog mixed martial arts website.
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).
Mixed martial arts record 
|Professional record breakdown|
|11 matches||3 wins||6 losses|
|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 Filipović||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||October 11, 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 30, 1998||1||2:17||Tokyo, Japan|
|Loss||0-1||Rickson Gracie||Submission (armbar)||PRIDE 1||October 11, 1997||1||2:32||Tokyo, Japan|
Post MMA contributions 
Takada was the figurehead of the now defunct 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", a Yasunori Kato-esque character.
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 
- Signature moves
- Entrance themes
- "Gale Rider" by Kevin Peek (NJPW, 1982–1984)
- "Still I'm Sad" by Rainbow (UWF, 1984–1985)
- "Devil's Triumph" by Seikima-II (NJPW, 1985–1987)
- "War" by Vince DiCola (NJPW, 1987–1988)
- "Cross Fire" by Toshiki Fukawa (Newborn UWF, 1988–1989)
- "Last Hero" by Hound Dog[disambiguation needed] (Newborn UWF, 1989–1990)
- "Training Montage" by Vince DiCola (UWFi/NJPW/WAR/Freelance, 1991–2002)
- "Power And Glory" by Yngwie Malmsteen (UWFi, 1994–1996)
Championships and accomplishments 
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Tokyo Sports Grand Prix
- Union of Wrestling Forces International
- Real Pro Wrestling (RPW) World Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
- Wrestle Association R
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
Video games 
- "Nobuhiko Takada profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
- "Profile at Puroresu Central". Puroresu Central. Retrieved 2012-05-11.
- http://www.heavy.com/comedy/2010/02/mark-coleman-bottom-line-i-can-still-fight/ Heavy interview with Mark Coleman: Bottom Line, I Can Still Fight
- "Finishing Moves List". Other Arena. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- "UWF-I Commercial Tape on 10/23/92". Puroresu Central. Retrieved 2012-12-28.
- Saikyou: Takada Nobuhiko at GameFAQs