Enson Inoue

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Enson Inoue
Enson Inoue at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival.JPG
BornEnson Shoji Inoue
(1967-04-15) April 15, 1967 (age 56)
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Other namesYamatodamashii (大和魂)
ResidenceSaitama, Japan
Height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight204 lb (93 kg; 14.6 st)
Light Heavyweight
StyleBrazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Teacher(s)Satoru Sayama
John Lewis
RankSixth degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Fourth degree black belt in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu
Years active1995–2004, 2010
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout5
By submission7
By knockout5
By submission1
By decision2
Notable relativesEgan Inoue, brother
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog

Enson Shoji Inoue (Japanese: エンセン井上; born April 15, 1967) is a Japanese-American jiu-jitsu practitioner and retired professional mixed martial artist. A professional competitor from 1995 until 2010, he fought for the PRIDE Fighting Championships, the UFC, Shooto, and Vale Tudo Japan. He was the first and only Shooto Heavyweight Champion, and was a finalist in the Lightweight category at UFC 13.

Born and raised in Hawaii, he has resided in Japan since the 1990s. He is sometimes known by the moniker "Yamatodamashii," a Japanese phrase meaning "the spirit of ancient Japan." His brother, Egan Inoue, is also a martial artist and a professional racquetball competitor.


Inoue was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, to third-generation Japanese immigrant parents, making him a Yonsei (fourth-generation Japanese-American). He attended University High School, and began practicing the martial arts Hapkido and Taekwondo in order to defend himself from bullies. Inoue also played Football, Baseball, Basketball, Volleyball, ran in track and field, and also excelled in racquetball, alongside his brother Egan.

Inoue began learning Gracie Brazilian jiu-jitsu.[1] He and his brother were awarded black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by John Lewis. He subsequently demoted himself to purple belt in July 2016 citing that BJJ has moved on since attaining his black belt.[citation needed] He also holds a yondan (fourth degree black belt) in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu..[2]

Mixed martial career[edit]

Inoue competed professionally from 1995 to 2010, retiring with a 12-8-0 record.

His first professional bout was against Shingo Shigeta at Shooto: Vale Tudo Access 3 on January 21, 1995, which ended in a victory by total knockout. He won the Shooto Heavyweight Champion against Joe Estes at Shooto: Reconquista 4, on October 12, 1997.

His other achievements include a victory over UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture, and giving Frank Shamrock one of his toughest matches. His final bout was against Antz Nansen on April 25, 2010, in Tokyo, which he won by submission.

Other activities[edit]

Inoue runs several MMA gyms located in Japan, Saipan, and Guam under the name Purebred. He also has affiliated gyms located in Thailand, Canada and the USA.[3][4][5][6]

He appeared in the 2008 martial arts film Redbelt as a cameo role,[7] and was featured in the documentary film Rites of Passage: The Rebirth of Combat Sports.

Personal life[edit]

Inoue has a stepson (Erson) and is the brother of Egan Inoue, a mixed martial artist and a two time racquetball World Champion player.[8] He was married to the sister of Ultimate Fighting Championship Bantamweight fighter Norifumi Yamamoto. He took in and trained Norifumi in mixed martial arts after an incident with the Yakuza.[citation needed] Enson has asserted that he is "not Yakuza" but admits to doing business with members of Yakuza.[9]

In the aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, Enson travelled to northeast Japan to directly help the victims.[10]

In 2020, news broke that the IBJJF had refused to recognize Inoue's official rank as a BJJ black belt, despite him competing at the highest levels of the sport as early as 1999.[11]

Enson is married to Sarah Jane McCann, who is from New Zealand of Māori descent.

Legal issues[edit]

In October 2008, Inoue was arrested in Tokyo for marijuana possession and spent 28 days in prison before being released on November 14, 2008. He was charged with a two-year suspended sentence with four years probation. During his probation period he was not allowed to leave the country.[12]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Mixed martial arts record[edit]

Professional record breakdown
20 matches 12 wins 8 losses
By knockout 5 5
By submission 7 1
By decision 0 2
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Win 12–8 Antz Nansen Submission (armbar) Astra: Yoshida's Farewell April 25, 2010 1 2:10 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 11–8 Tommy Sauer TKO (punches) SB 35: SuperBrawl 35 April 16, 2004 1 4:14 Hawaii, United States
Win 11–7 Soichi Nishida Submission (choke) FFCF 1: Fury Full Contact Fighting 1 January 10, 2004 1 1:00 Guam
Loss 10–7 Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira Technical submission (triangle choke) PRIDE 19 February 24, 2002 1 6:17 Saitama, Japan
Loss 10–6 Heath Herring TKO (knees) PRIDE 12 December 9, 2000 1 4:52 Saitama, Japan
Loss 10–5 Igor Vovchanchyn TKO (doctor stoppage) PRIDE 10 August 27, 2000 1 10:00 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 10–4 Mark Kerr Decision (unanimous) PRIDE Grand Prix 2000: Opening Round January 30, 2000 1 15:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 10–3 Soichi Nishida Submission (rear-naked choke) PRIDE 5 April 29, 1999 1 0:24 Nagoya, Japan
Win 9–3 Randy Couture Submission (armbar) VTJ 1998: Vale Tudo Japan 1998 October 25, 1998 1 1:39 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 8–3 Frank Shamrock TKO (punches) VTJ 1997: Vale Tudo Japan 1997 November 29, 1997 2 7:17 Tokyo, Japan
Win 8–2 Joe Estes TKO (submission to punches) Shooto: Reconquista 4 October 12, 1997 1 1:06 Tokyo, Japan Won the Shooto Heavyweight Championship.
Win 7–2 Royce Alger Technical Submission (armbar) UFC 13 May 30, 1997 1 1:36 Augusta, Georgia, United States
Win 6–2 Rei Zulu TKO (elbows) Shooto: Reconquista 2 April 6, 1997 1 0:45 Tokyo, Japan
Win 5–2 Mushtaq Abdullah TKO (submission to punches) Shooto: Let's Get Lost October 4, 1996 1 0:38 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 4–2 Igor Zinoviev TKO (punches) VTJ 1996: Vale Tudo Japan 1996 July 7, 1996 1 0:44 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 4–1 Joe Estes Decision (majority) Shooto: Vale Tudo Junction 3 May 7, 1996 3 8:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 4–0 Andre Mannaart TKO (punches) Shooto: Vale Tudo Junction 1 January 20, 1996 1 3:20 Tokyo, Japan
Win 3–0 Ed de Kruijf Technical Submission (armbar) Shooto: Complete Vale Tudo Access July 29, 1995 1 1:40 Japan
Win 2–0 Rene Rooze Submission (rear naked choke) VTJ 1995: Vale Tudo Japan 1995 April 20, 1995 1 6:41 Japan
Win 1–0 Shingo Shigeta TKO (punches) Shooto: Vale Tudo Access 3 January 21, 1995 1 1:10 Tokyo, Japan

Submission grappling record[edit]

Result Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Notes
Win Tully Kulihaapai Submission (armbar) PRIDE 7 1999 1
Loss Mario Sperry Points ADCC 1999 Absolute 1999 1


  1. ^ "Enson Inoue".
  2. ^ "But Enson has trained in the Bujinkan arts with myself and Anthony Netzler now for at least 9 years. I gave him his Yondan in the Bujinkan. ""'Enson Inoue and the Bujinkan,' Kutaki no Mora". Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  3. ^ "Interview: Enson Inoue & George Sotiropoulos (Part Two)". total-mma.com. 2008-05-02. Archived from the original on 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
  4. ^ "Purebred USA". purebredusa.com. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
  5. ^ "Purebred". Retrieved 2009-11-27.
  6. ^ "Purebred Canada". grizzlygym.com. 2010-05-02. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  7. ^ "Inoue On Red Belt MMA Movie, R-1 Training & More". mmanews.com. 2007-05-31. Archived from the original on 2008-01-31. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
  8. ^ "Hawaii Martial Arts News & Rumors - Dedicated to Hawaii-Specific Martial Arts News & Rumors". www.onzuka.com.
  9. ^ Hody Jae Huh. Up Close and Personal with Enson Inoue Part I
  10. ^ "Enson Inoue Discusses Charity Work". mmafighting.com. 2011-11-04. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
  11. ^ "IBJJF Refuse to Recognise Enson Inoue as a Black Belt". 30 September 2020.
  12. ^ "MMA pioneer Enson Inoue a new man after 26 days in prison". November 30, 2008.

External links[edit]