Funaki in 2010
March 13, 1969 |
Aomori Prefecture, Japan
|Other names||Yomigaetta Samurai ("Modern Day Samurai")|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Weight||209 lb (95 kg; 14 st 13 lb)|
|Years active||1993 - 2000, 2007 - 2008 (MMA)
1985–1993, 2009 – present (Professional wrestling)
|Mixed martial arts record|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
Masakatsu Funaki (船木 誠勝?) is a Japanese mixed martial artist and professional wrestler, who has previously wrestled in All Japan Pro Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling, PWFG, UWF and Wrestle-1. He is also the co-founder of Pancrase, one of the first mixed martial arts organizations and non-rehearsed shoot wrestling promotions (following five years after the inception of Shooto but predating America's Ultimate Fighting Championship). Funaki was also Pancrase's biggest star; Josh Barnett described him as the "symbol of Japan", Frank Shamrock labeled Funaki "the golden boy" of Pancrase, and Guy Mezger called Funaki "hands down the smartest and most skilled fighter in Pancrase next to Ken Shamrock".
Not only the organization's co-founder, Funaki was also one of Pancrase's most successful fighters to date, scoring submission victories over numerous MMA champions such as Ken Shamrock, Frank Shamrock, Guy Mezger, Yuki Kondo, Minoru Suzuki and Bas Rutten through the course of his 50-fight career. He is the only fighter in mixed martial arts to hold wins over both Shamrock brothers and Bas Rutten, and was the first man to win the King of Pancrase title twice.
Funaki is widely considered to be one of the greatest Japanese fighters in mixed martial arts history. Sherdog.com ranked him as the #1 mixed martial artist in the world for the years 1996 and 1997, and also had him ranked as a top 4 pound for pound fighter from 1993 to 1998.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Professional wrestling career
- 3 Mixed martial arts career
- 4 Return to pro wrestling
- 5 Filmography
- 6 In wrestling
- 7 Championships and accomplishments
- 8 Mixed martial arts record
- 9 References
- 10 External Links
The son of a movie theater owner, Funaki was exposed to martial arts films at an early age. He idolized Bruce Lee above all others, but also eagerly watched the films of Sammo Hung and Sonny Chiba. His father would ultimately abandon young Funaki and his family.
Professional wrestling career
New Japan Pro Wrestling (1985-1989)
Instead of entering high school, he applied to the New Japan Pro Wrestling Dojo. He was in the same class as Keiichi Yamada (better known as Jushin Thunder Liger), Shinya Hashimoto, Minoru Suzuki, Masahiro Chono, and Chris Benoit. The New Japan Dojo had a reputation for being particularly harsh on its trainees, both mentally and physically, with the intent of only graduating the very best of each class. However, Funaki stunned the New Japan trainers with his athleticism, timing and natural talent for submission grappling. Along with the former Olympic alternate Minoru Suzuki, Funaki formed a strong bond with the dojo's head grappling instructor, Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Funaki debuted as a Jr. Heavyweight at the age of 15; it was a record for the youngest debut in NJPW.
After debuting for New Japan with a time-limit draw against fellow New Japan Dojo graduate Chris Benoit, Funaki was not given much of a chance to shine, as the Jr. Heavyweight division was in a transition period. And as such, the owner, Antonio Inoki, decided to shift the focus towards his heavyweight division which dominated the cards. He did, however have many matches with Naoki Sano and Keiichi Yamada (who would later become Jushin Thunder Liger) and was the first person to take the Shooting Star Press from Yamada. In 1988, he wrestled an excursion in Europe, competing in Catch Wrestling Association in Austria and Germany and for All Star Promotions in England.
When New Japan top draw Akira Maeda became so frustrated with backstage politics that he shoot kicked Riki Choshu and broke his eye socket, he was fired after refusing to go on an excursion to Mexico, and left to form Newborn UWF. Funaki, seeing an opportunity to shine and showcase what he could do, wanted to follow. Maeda negotiated the acquisition of his, along with friend Suzuki and mentor Yoshiaki Fujiwara's contracts for an undisclosed amount of money.
Newborn UWF and Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi (1989-1993)
Funaki became a top draw and a nemesis to Akira Maeda. When Newborn UWF folded in December 1990, Funaki decided to sign with mentor Fujiwara's new Fujiwara Gumi promotion. Funaki left Fujiwara Gumi in 1993 to form the mixed martial arts promotion Pancrase.
Mixed martial arts career
Funaki's MMA career began when he founded Pancrase along with Minoru Suzuki. Funaki defeated Bas Rutten, Ken Shamrock, Frank Shamrock, Minoru Suzuki, and Guy Mezger. Frank Shamrock said, "Funaki was like a mad scientist. He took the idea of submissions to an even higher level than the rest of the Japanese contingent. He had this insatiable desire to learn more and push his body harder. And as an entertainer he understood the need to entertain."
This realization for the need to entertain often resulted in Funaki (along Minoru Suzuki) "carrying" some of their opponents during fights. In essence, in order to entertain the crowd, Funaki and Suzuki would occasionally give their opponents opportunities to create drama before finally finishing them off. Josh Barnett said, "when you're that good, you can have a guy thinking he's doing so much better than he expected and have no idea that they're just letting you last like a cat playing with a mouse." Frank Shamrock added, "I know for a fact those guys (Funaki and Suzuki) were light years ahead of everyone else, and they were so good that they would go towards entertainment before they finished a match." However, this did backfire on Funaki on at least one occasion. In a match against Jason DeLucia, Funaki allowed Delucia to catch him in a kneebar in order to create drama and planned on using a rope escape once Delucia had the submission locked in. Unfortunately, Funaki mistakenly allowed himself to get too far from the ropes and was forced to tap out.
Funaki retired from Pancrase after a win over Tony Petarra in September 1999 due to accumulated injuries and, according to fellow Pancrase fighter and friend Bas Rutten, being burnt out from the hectic Pancrase schedule.
Masakatsu Funaki vs. Rickson Gracie
Despite Funaki's body being very broken down from injuries, he returned for a fight against the legendary Rickson Gracie at Colosseum 2000 held at the Tokyo Dome. The show was almost canceled due to Rickson trying to change the rules to make knees and strikes to the head illegal, but the problems were overcome and the show continued. The event was broadcast to 30 million TV Tokyo viewers. There was no championship title at stake.
Funaki walked to the ring in samurai attire with a samurai sword which garnered a roaring excitement from the Japanese announcers and crowd. Funaki and Rickson clinched to the corner, where Funaki appeared to have secured a guillotine choke, but the hold was loose and Rickson managed to go the mat. They traded kicks to no effect, until some well timed kicks from Gracie blew out his injured knee. They clinched again, but Funaki's injury rendered him unable to wrestle correctly, and he was taken down by the Brazilian grappler, who promptly mounted him. Masakatsu looked stunned while Rickson bloodied his face with ground and pound, and finally Gracie forced his way into a rear-naked choke. Funaki refused to submit to the hold, passing out before the referee intervened.
K-1 and Dream (2007-2008)
On December 31, 2007, Funaki came out of retirement to fight Kazushi Sakuraba at the K-1 Dynamite event at Kyocera Dome Osaka. After exchanging professional wrestling-inspired entrances, the submission specialists traded strikes. Funaki's arsenal of punches and kicks appeared to be quicker and more powerful, but Sakuraba was able to sneak in a double-leg take down after Funaki committed heavily to a missed right cross. On the ground, Funaki closed guard around Sakuraba before opening it up to spin for a knee-bar. For a moment, Funaki appeared to secure Sakuraba's leg only to be thwarted by a combination of Sakuraba's submission acumen and their position against the ring ropes, which blocked Funaki from rolling with the hold. Sakuraba then maneuvered to Funaki's back, only for the Pancrase founder to roll back into the guard position. Breaking away from the grappling contest, Sakuraba stood up and began to assault the still-prone Funaki's legs with a series of kicks. Funaki answered with a kick of his own, blackening Sakuraba's eye and cutting his face. Sakuraba returned himself to the ground, where Funaki immediately attempted to sweep him. However, Sakuraba blocked the attempt and secured a double wristlock, eventually forcing Funaki to submit.
Funaki signed a contract with FEG's MMA promotion, DREAM. On April 28, 2008, Funaki participated in DREAM's first ever Middle-weight Grand Prix. Funaki was matched against Kiyoshi Tamura at the opening round of the Dream 2: Middleweight Grand Prix 2008 First Round in Saitama, Japan. After a hard opening exchange between the two, Funaki was staggered by a punch and pulled guard on Tamura, from where he was pounded to an eventual TKO at 0:57 of Round 1. This was his first (T)KO stoppage loss since September 14, 1998, when he was knocked out with a body blow by Semmy Schilt. Funaki was eliminated from the Middle-weight Grand Prix.
After losing twice in a row since Funaki's comeback to the MMA ring, Funaki was determined to prove that he was still a worthy competitor of the sport and participated again in the Dream 6: Middleweight Grand Prix 2008 Final Round event that took place on September 23, 2008 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Funaki was matched with one of his former Pancrase students, "Minowaman" Ikuhisa Minowa. At the opening seconds of the first round of the match, Funaki came at his former charge with a series of kicks, practically forcing Minowa to catch one of the kicks. Funaki capitalized immediately, leaping directly into a heel-hook. Minowa escaped the hold, but Funaki maintained control of his leg and immediately attacked with a heel-hook from the cross-body position, forcing his protege to tap at 52 seconds of the first round.
Masakatsu Funaki was scheduled to face Russian Magomedkhan "Volk Han" Amanulayevich Gamzatkhanov in a fight resembling the Pancrase Hybrid Wrestler format. The fight ended in a draw, and Volk Han announced his retirement afterwards.
Return to pro wrestling
All Japan Pro Wrestling (2009–2013)
In August 2007, Funaki and Keiji Mutoh discussed the possibility of Funaki returning to regular professional wrestling in Mutoh's company, All Japan Pro Wrestling. On August 31, 2009, Funaki signed a one year contract with All Japan, following a tag team victory with Mutoh against Minoru Suzuki and Masahiro Chono.
On January 4, 2012, Funaki made a special appearance for New Japan at Wrestle Kingdom VI in Tokyo Dome, where he teamed with Masayuki Kono to defeat the Seigigun of Yuji Nagata and Wataru Inoue. During the match, Nagata broke Funaki's orbital bone, sidelining him from in-ring action for an estimated six months. Funaki returned to the ring on June 17, 2012. On July 29, he defeated the man who had injured him, Yuji Nagata, in a grudge match to become the number one contender to the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship. On August 26 he defeated Jun Akiyama in a match that lasted less than five minutes to become the 45th Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion. He lost the title to Suwama on March 17, 2013. In June 2013, Funaki announced his resignation from All Japan in the aftermath of Nobuo Shiraishi taking over as the new president and Keiji Mutoh leaving the promotion. Funaki's final match for the promotion took place on June 30 and saw him and his Stack of Arms partners Koji Kanemoto and Masayuki Kono, who were also leaving All Japan, lose to Akebono, Osamu Nishimura and Ryota Hama in a six-man tag team match.
On July 10, 2013, Funaki was announced as part of Keiji Mutoh's new Wrestle-1 promotion. During the promotion's inaugural event on September 8, Funaki teamed with Masayuki Kono in a tag team match, where they were defeated by Katsuyori Shibata and Kazushi Sakuraba. Following the match, Kono turned on Funaki, hitting his mentor with a steel chair. Funaki and Kono faced off in a singles match at Wrestle 1's second show on September 15, where Kono was victorious with help from Kazma Sakamoto and Ryoji Sai. A rematch between the two took place on October 12 and saw Funaki emerge victorious. On March 2 at Kaisen: Outbreak, Funaki defeated Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) representative Bobby Roode in an interpromotional match, after which he challenged Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle to a match. At Wrestle-1's July 6 event, Funaki defeated Kohei Sato to win Pro Wrestling Zero1's World Heavyweight Championship. He lost the title back to Sato on September 19. Three days later, Funaki entered the Wrestle-1 Championship tournament, defeating Tajiri in his first round match. The following day, Funaki defeated Akira to advance to the semifinals of the tournament. Prior to the semifinals of the tournament, Funaki entered a storyline, where his former rival Tajiri came to his aid to help him prepare for his match. On October 8, Funaki was eliminated from the tournament in the semifinals by Masayuki Kono, after Tajiri turned on him. In June 2015, it was announced that Funaki would be leaving Wrestle-1 and going freelance following his contract expiring at the end of the month. His final match for the promotion took place on June 20.
- (1994) Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie: Fei Long
- (2001) ShootFighter Tekken: Seiko "Oton" Miyazawa
- (2000) Gojoe: Spirit War Chronicle: Tankai
- (2001) Electric Dragon 80.000 V: Narrator
- (2001) Shadow Fury: Takeru
- (2003) Shin karate baka ichidai 2: Kung Fu Fighter
- (2004) Godzilla: Final Wars: Kumasaka
- (2004) Shinsetsu Tiger Mask: Satoru Sayama/Tiger Mask
- (2004) Rikidōzan: Masahiko Kimura
- (2006) Like a Dragon: Prologue: Kazuma Kiryu
- (1994) Funaki Masakatsu no Hybrid Wrestler: Tōgi Denshō
- (1997) Virtual Pro Wrestling 64
- (2000) Virtual Pro Wrestling 2: Ōdō Keishō
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- Entrance themes
Championships and accomplishments
Mixed martial arts
- Pancrase Hybrid Wrestling
- King of Pancrase (2 times)
- 1996 King of Pancrase Championship Tournament Winner
- 1994 King of Pancrase Championship Tournament Semifinalist
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
Mixed martial arts record
|Professional record breakdown|
|53 matches||39 wins||13 losses|
|Draw||39-13-2||Volk Han||Draw (majority)||Rings/The Outsider: Volk Han Retirement Match||December 16, 2012||1||15:00||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||39–13–1||Ikuhisa Minowa||Submission (heel hook)||Dream 6: Middleweight Grand Prix 2008 Final Round||September 23, 2008||1||0:52||Saitama, Japan|
|Loss||38–13–1||Kiyoshi Tamura||TKO (punches)||Dream 2: Middleweight Grand Prix 2008 First Round||April 29, 2008||1||0:57||Saitama, Japan|
|Loss||38–12–1||Kazushi Sakuraba||Submission (kimura)||K-1 Premium 2007 Dynamite!!||December 31, 2007||1||6:25||Osaka, Japan|
|Loss||38–11–1||Rickson Gracie||Technical submission (rear naked choke)||Colosseum 2000||March 26, 2000||1||12:49||Japan||Rickson had special rules: no knees or elbows to head standing up or on ground|
|Win||38–10–1||Tony Petarra||Submission (punches)||Pancrase: 1999 Anniversary Show||September 18, 1999||1||1:16||Urayasu, Chiba, Japan|
|Draw||37–10–1||Ebenezer Fontes Braga||Draw||Pancrase: Breakthrough 4||April 18, 1999||1||15:00||Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan|
|Win||37–10||John Renken||Submission (punches)||Pancrase: Advance 12||December 19, 1998||1||5:50||Urayasu, Chiba, Japan|
|Loss||36–10||Kiuma Kunioku||Decision (lost points)||Pancrase: Advance 10||October 26, 1998||1||15:00||Tokyo, Japan|
|Loss||36–9||Semmy Schilt||KO (punch to the body)||Pancrase: 1998 Anniversary Show||September 14, 1998||1||7:13||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||36–8||Osami Shibuya||Submission (arm triangle choke)||Pancrase: 1998 Neo-Blood Tournament Second Round||July 26, 1998||1||6:07||Aomori, Japan|
|Loss||35–8||Guy Mezger||Decision (unanimous)||Pancrase: Advance 5||April 26, 1998||1||30:00||Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan|
|Win||35–7||Semmy Schilt||Decision (lost points)||Pancrase: Advance 4||March 18, 1998||1||15:00||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||34–7||Katsuomi Inagaki||Submission||Pancrase: Advance 2||February 6, 1998||1||2:36||Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan|
|Win||33–7||Yuki Kondo||Submission (triangle kimura)||Pancrase: Alive 11||December 20, 1997||1||2:20||Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan|
|Win||32–7||Jason Godsey||Submission (calf slicer)||Pancrase: Alive 10||November 16, 1997||1||7:12||Kobe, Hyogo, Japan|
|Win||31–7||Guy Mezger||Submission (triangle armbar)||Pancrase: 1997 Anniversary Show||September 6, 1997||1||3:58||Urayasu, Chiba, Japan|
|Win||30–7||Osami Shibuya||Submission (guillotine choke)||Pancrase: 1997 Neo-Blood Tournament, Round 1||July 20, 1997||1||2:34||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||29–7||Wes Gassaway||Submission (achilles lock)||Pancrase: Alive 7||June 30, 1997||1||1:05||Hakata, Fukuoka, Japan|
|Loss||28–7||Yuki Kondo||Submission (triangle armbar)||Pancrase: Alive 4||April 27, 1997||1||2:34||Urayasu, Chiba, Japan|
|Win||28–6||Paul Lazenby||Submission (top wristlock)||Pancrase: Alive 3||March 22, 1997||1||4:36||Nagoya, Aichi, Japan|
|Win||27–6||Semmy Schilt||Submission (toe hold)||Pancrase: Alive 2||February 22, 1997||1||5:47||Urayasu, Chiba, Japan|
|Win||26–6||Jason DeLucia||TKO (leg injury)||Pancrase: Truth 10||December 15, 1996||1||2:34||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||25–6||Yuki Kondo||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Pancrase: Truth 9||November 9, 1996||1||1:43||Fukuoka, Japan|
|Loss||24–6||Bas Rutten||KO (knee)||Pancrase: 1996 Anniversary Show||September 7, 1996||1||17:05||Urayasu, Chiba, Japan|
|Win||24–5||Takafumi Ito||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Pancrase: 1996 Neo-Blood Tournament, Round 2||July 23, 1996||1||2:01||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||23–5||Vernon White||Submission (achilles lock)||Pancrase: Truth 6||June 25, 1996||1||2:34||Fukuoka, Japan|
|Win||22–5||August Smisl||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Pancrase: Truth 5||May 16, 1996||1||2:01||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||21–5||Katsuomi Inagaki||Submission (kneebar)||Pancrase: Truth 2||March 2, 1996||1||1:14||Kobe, Hyogo, Japan|
|Win||20–5||Ryushi Yanagisawa||Technical Submission (americana)||Pancrase: Truth 1||January 28, 1996||1||8:42||Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan|
|Win||19–5||Takaku Fuke||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Pancrase: Eyes of Beast 7||December 14, 1995||1||0:31||Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan|
|Loss||18–5||Frank Shamrock||Submission (toe hold)||Pancrase: Eyes of Beast 6||November 4, 1995||1||10:31||Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan|
|Win||18–4||Guy Mezger||Submission (achilles lock)||Pancrase: 1995 Anniversary Show||September 1, 1995||1||6:46||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||17–4||Leon Dijk||Submission (achilles lock)||Pancrase: 1995 Neo-Blood Tournament Second Round||July 23, 1995||1||1:01||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||16–4||Gregory Smit||Submission (achilles lock)||Pancrase: Eyes of Beast 5||July 13, 1995||1||7:30||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||15–4||Alex Cook||Submission (heel hook)||Pancrase: Eyes of Beast 4||May 13, 1995||1||7:14||Urayasu, Chiba, Japan|
|Loss||14–4||Manabu Yamada||Submission (heel hook)||Pancrase: Eyes of Beast 3||April 8, 1995||1||4:43||Nagoya, Aichi, Japan|
|Win||14–3||Frank Shamrock||Submission (toe hold)||Pancrase: Eyes of Beast 2||March 10, 1995||1||5:11||Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan|
|Win||13–3||Jason DeLucia||Submission (heel hook)||Pancrase: Eyes of Beast 1||January 26, 1995||1||9:04||Nagoya, Aichi, Japan|
|Loss||12–3||Ken Shamrock||Submission (arm-triangle choke)||Pancrase: King of Pancrase Tournament Second Round||December 17, 1994||1||5:50||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||12–2||Vernon White||Submission (americana)||Pancrase: King of Pancrase Tournament Opening Round||December 16, 1994||1||5:37||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||11–2||Todd Bjornethun||Submission (armbar)||Pancrase: King of Pancrase Tournament Opening Round||December 16, 1994||1||2:20||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||10–2||Minoru Suzuki||Technical Submission (rear-naked choke)||Pancrase: Road to the Championship 5||October 15, 1994||1||1:51||Newark, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||9–2||Ken Shamrock||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Pancrase: Road to the Championship 4||September 1, 1994||1||2:30||Osaka, Japan|
|Win||8–2||Scott "Bam Bam" Sullivan||Submission (heel hook)||Pancrase: Road to the Championship 3||July 26, 1994||1||0:56||Tokyo, Japan|
|Loss||7–2||Jason DeLucia||Submission (kneebar)||Pancrase: Road to the Championship 2||July 6, 1994||1||1:01||Amagasaki, Hyogo, Japan|
|Win||7–1||Gregory Smit||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Pancrase: Road to the Championship 1||May 31, 1994||1||1:58||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||6–1||Takaku Fuke||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Pancrase: Pancrash! 3||April 21, 1994||1||6:55||Osaka, Japan|
|Win||5–1||Vernon White||KO (palm strike)||Pancrase: Pancrash! 2||March 12, 1994||1||1:13||Nagoya, Aichi, Japan|
|Win||4–1||Bas Rutten||Submission (toe hold)||Pancrase: Pancrash! 1||January 19, 1994||1||2:58||Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan|
|Win||3–1||Kazuo Takahashi||KO (palm strikes and knees)||Pancrase: Yes, We Are Hybrid Wrestlers 4||December 8, 1993||1||3:09||Hakata, Fukuoka, Japan|
|Win||2–1||Cees Bezems||Submission (americana)||Pancrase: Yes, We Are Hybrid Wrestlers 3||November 8, 1993||1||1:42||Kobe, Hyogo, Japan|
|Win||1–1||Ryushi Yanagisawa||Submission (kneebar)||Pancrase: Yes, We Are Hybrid Wrestlers 2||October 14, 1993||1||1:35||Nagoya, Aichi, Japan|
|Loss||0–1||Ken Shamrock||Submission (arm-triangle choke)||Pancrase: Yes, We Are Hybrid Wrestlers 1||September 21, 1993||1||6:15||Urayasu, Chiba, Japan|
- Todd Martin: The overlooked origins of mixed martial arts. Contributor to CBS Sports
- Sherdog.com Power Ratings, 1993-1998
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- Interview with Funaki Masakatsu after his loss to Rickson Gracie
- Professional MMA record for Masakatsu Funaki from Sherdog
- Wrestle-1 profile
- Biopic article on Masa Funaki