Tsuyoshi Kohsaka

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Tsuyoshi Kosaka
Tsuyashi Kosaka 20151229.JPG
comeback to fight at RIZIN (on Dec 29th 2015, at Saitama Super Arena)
Born (1970-03-06) March 6, 1970 (age 45)
Other names TK, Kakutogi Kai no Kenja ("The Sage of the Combat Sports World")
Nationality Japanese
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight 225 lb (102 kg; 16 st 1 lb)
Division Heavyweight
Team Alliance Square
Teacher(s) Akira Maeda
Rank 4th Degree Black Belt in Judo
Years active 1995 - 2006 (MMA) 2015- present
Mixed martial arts record
Total 49
Wins 29
By knockout 8
By submission 7
By decision 9
Unknown 5
Losses 18
By knockout 8
By submission 2
By decision 6
Unknown 2
Draws 2
Other information
Website Official blog
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog
last updated on: March 19, 2011 (2011-03-19)

Tsuyoshi "TK" Kohsaka (高阪 剛 Kōsaka Tsuyoshi?, born March 6, 1970) is a retired Japanese mixed martial artist and professional wrestler. He has competed in high profile mixed martial arts promotions, such as the UFC, RINGS, Pancrase, and DEEP. Kohsaka is known for his conditioning and grappling prowess as well as fighting many of the greatest heavyweight and light heavyweight fighters of all time. His "TK Guard" is famous for its efficiency and Frank Shamrock and Maurice Smith have both credited him with having vastly improved their work from that particular position.[1]


Training in judo since highschool, Kohsaka competed extensively during his stay at the Senshu University, where he befriended future world judo champion Hidehiko Yoshida. After graduating, Kohsaka became a professional judoka under the sponsorship of Toray Industries, but had to retire after a knee injury. A year after, he joined professional wrestling promotion Fighting Network RINGS.


Kohsaka had his first mixed martial arts venture when, thanks to his strong judo background, was sent to represent RINGS in the gi-clad MMA event Lumax Cup 1995. He won the tournament by knocking out Hiroyuki Yoshioka, submitting Susumu Yamasaki with a heel hook, and finally outclassing Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion Egan Inoue at the finals with a mix of judo throws and positional reversals.[2]

After his return to RINGS, Kohsaka was put in opening shoot matches, defeating names like Maurice Smith and Willie Peeters. In 1997, however, he was thrown to a bigger challenge when he faced former Pancrase star Frank Shamrock. Tsuyoshi dominated the match, throwing and taking down Shamrock and threatening with submissions, but couldn't lock any of them, while Shamrock defended from half guard. After a failed takedown, however, the judoka was caught in a guillotine choke by Frank and had to spend a rope escape. Even although Kohsaka still attempted a Kimura lock followed by an armbar, the match ended without Kohsaka making Shamrock spend another escape, so Tsuyoshi lost by points. The match, however, was instrumental in Kohsaka's career, as it made him close friends with Frank Shamrock and Maurice Smith, who became his training partners in the team The Alliance.

In April 1999, after a series of matches in UFC, Kohsaka fought Dutch kickboxer Gilbert Yvel in RINGS. The match saw a worn Kohsaka getting ahead in points by multiple fouls from Yvel, but he failed in submitting him while Yvel landed several knockouts until one of them caused the fight to be stopped. They rematched in August, when an improved Kohsaka immediately threw Yvel, hit him with extensive body punches and submitted him with a toehold for a rope escape, but the bout was interrupted for Kohsaka falling out the ring in another hip throw and getting injured. As TK was ahead on points, the victory was granted to him. Finally, Yvel and Kohsaka had a rubber match during the King of Kings Tournament, but it was short and uneventful, as TK was stopped again by a cut despite he wasn't knocked out.

In August 2000, TK faced the King of Kings semi-finalist Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira. Started the fight, Kohsaka sprawled a takedown and tried a hip throw, but Nogueira managed to led him to the ground and mounted him. The judoka escaped from under him, only to Nogueira to regain position, but this time Kohsaka reversed him into a leglock, then pressing into his guard. The next round, Kohsaka sprawled again and continued pressing, blocking Nogueira's attempts to work submission from the bottom and striking when possible. At the third round, Nogueira mounted him again and threw punches, but Kohsaka performed again his escape into leglock and kept attacking his guard. A pair of sweeps later, Kohsaka controlled position until the end of the match, which was ruled a draw.

During the next King of Kings tournament, Kohsaka advanced over Mikhail Ilyukhin via knockout and Mikhail's teammate Fedor Emelianenko by doctor stoppage. The latter was again a technical victory which was controversial, as the cut was caused by a missed looping punch where Kohsaka's elbow struck Emelianenko's head, reopening a cut sustained in his previous fight against Ricardo Arona. Since the fight was in a tournament format, a winner and loser were required because draws and no-contests were not awarded, and as Emelianenko could not advance due to the injury, Kohsaka did. He faced Randy Couture in an even match, which saw Kohsaka hip throwing down the wrestling champion to perform ground and pound and using his "TK scissors" move to counter a north/south position, but the split decision was finally given to Couture, eliminating the Japanese.


In 1998, Kohsaka signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship and debuted at the event UFC 18, facing Kimo Leopoldo. The much heavier Kimo controlled the first moments of the fight and tried a kneebar, but the Japanese shooter showed his field of expertise reversing the hold and attempting his own leglocks, always keeping a strong defense. At one point, Leopoldo gained the mount, only for Kohsaka to reverse the position into a heel hook attempt. After minutes of fight, TK controlled the standing, landing precise punches and leg kicks before getting down to the mat and performing ground and pound on Kimo until the end of the bout. Kohsaka won by unanimous decision.

Later that year TK fought Pete Williams at UFC Brazil. Williams went aggressively against Kohsaka using his vaunted striking, but Kohsaka kept throwing him down and attempting armlocks, also using his defensive guard whenever Williams managed to get back his offensive. At the end, Tsuyoshi won again by unanimous decision, which gained him a spot in a tournament for the title which was vacated by Randy Couture.

At 1999's UFC 18, Kohsaka returned to UFC fighting the legendary Bas Rutten in the first round of the "Road to the Heavyweight Title", which was a four-man tournament that would crown the next UFC Heavyweight Champion.[3] Kohsaka dominated the majority of the fight with his superiority at wrestling and ground and pound game plan, but ultimately lost by TKO when Rutten recovered in overtime and knocked him out with knees and punches. However, the fight was the source of heated controversy because referee John McCarthy seemed to unfairly stand the fight back to the feet even though at some moments Kohsaka was mounted on Rutten and actively landing clean effective punches.

In the same year, TK faced Tim Lajcik at UFC 21, where he won via TKO when Lajcik quit between rounds. Kohsaka again utilized a strategy of skilled defense and reversions to set up submissions attempts, eventually sweeping Lajcik against the cage wall and performing a lengthy ground and pound, which made Tim's corner throw the towel after the end of the round.

Kohsaka also took part in the second UFC event in Japanese soil, UFC 23, where he was pitted against Ruas Vale Tudo exponent Pedro Rizzo. The two contenders spent a round cautiously, until Rizzo switched to aggressive leg kicks and Kohsaka tried to take him down in return. Through the match, Pedro blocked TK's efforts to get it to the ground and landed more punches and leg kicks. At the end, after Kohsaka had absorbed a long punishment, Rizzo landed a right hand for the TKO, being declared winner.

Tsuyoshi's last fight in UFC was at UFC 37, fighting Ricco Rodriguez. The fight featured a long, back and forth grappling action, with Rodriguez taking dominant position and Kohsaka reversing and blocking him, until Ricco finally secured a mount and threw punches to the face for the TKO victory.


After RINGS's demise, Kohsaka wandered between Pancrase and the MMA division of New Japan Pro Wrestling. He then landed in PRIDE Fighting Championships, in which his first fight would be a rematch against Fedor Emelianenko for the latter's technical defeat in RINGS, taking place in PRIDE Bushido 6. The fight was one-sided and brutal, with Fedor landing strikes through Kohsaka's guard while the Japanese tried unsuccessfully to counterattack. At the end, after taking punches during most of the round, a bloody Kohsaka's corner threw the towel between rounds.

Kohsaka returned in PRIDE 31 against legendary Brazilian grappler and Brazilian Top Team coach Mario Sperry. The bout was even shorter, as Kohsaka knocked him out with punches after a brief struggle. Knowing the end of his career was near, TK announced his intentions to retire should he lose any of his matches in 2006. The day of his fight with Sperry was also the same day of his son's birth.

At PRIDE Total Elimination Absolute, Kohsaka fought Mark Hunt in what would be his last fight. TK struggled with the much heavier kickboxer, taking his back and performing an inverted triangle keylock only to Hunt to force his way out via raw strength. Back to standing, Kohsaka traded strikes with Hunt and landed effective hits despite the difference in level, absorbing heavy punches and delivering combos against the ropes. At the second round, the Japanese shooter again tried unsuccessfully to grapple with Hunt, and after long series of strikes, the kickboxer knocked him out with a right punch, finally ending the match.[4]


From 2003 to 2005, he worked sporadically in pro wrestling for New Japan Pro Wrestling, challenging Yoshihiro Takayama for the NWF Heavyweight Championship and feuding with Yuji Nagata. He also would defeat the 50ibs heavier Ricardo Morais in a MMA match for NJPW.

He also fought for Pancrase, defeating the similarly much heavier Ron Waterman for the Pancrase Super Heavyweight Championship. He returned to the company for a match against Mike Kyle, losing by doctor decision in a controversial fashion, as Kyle eye-gouged Kohsaka and actually damaged his cornea during the match without being penalized.[5]

Rizin Fighting Federation[edit]

Rizin Fighting Federation announced Kohsaka would debut for the promotion against James Thompson.[6][7] The bout took place on December 29, 2015 and Kohsaka won the fight via TKO in the second round.

Fighting style[edit]

As a fighter, Kohsaka was known for his conditioning, well rounded skillset and grappling ability. He would predominantly use his judo expertise on the ring, in the form of hip throws while standing and a heavy top control while on the ground, but he also showed his shoot wrestling influence through various types of leglocks.[8] He was specially proficient in reversing position, distinguishing himself for his trademark "TK scissors" sweep, in which he would use his legs to dismount the opponent and perform leglock attempts.[8][9] Along with his grappling, Kohsaka made usage of an intelligent striking to wear down his adversary, and he later gained significant punching power after training with Maurice Smith.

Personal life[edit]

Kohsaka now owns and operates a dojo in Japan where he trains his A-Square team along with Hidehiko Yoshida and his stable.[10]

In wrestling[edit]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

  • Lumax Cup
    • Tournament of J'95 Winner

Mixed martial arts record[edit]

Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Win 29–18–2 James Thompson TKO (punches) Rizin Fighting Federation 1: Day 1 December 29, 2015 2 1:58 Saitama, Japan
Loss 28–18–2 Mark Hunt TKO (punches) Pride FC - Total Elimination Absolute May 5, 2006 2 4:15 Osaka, Japan Pride 2006 Openweight Grand Prix opening round.
Win 28–17–2 Mario Sperry TKO (punches) Pride 31 - Dreamers February 26, 2006 1 1:20 Saitama, Japan
Loss 27–17–2 Mike Kyle Technical decision (unanimous) Pancrase: Spiral 8 October 2, 2005 3 1:17 Yokohama, Japan
Win 27–16–2 David Shvelidze Submission (armbar) Rings Russia: CIS vs. The World August 20, 2005 1 N/A Yekaterinburg, Russia
Loss 26–16–2 Fedor Emelianenko TKO (doctor stoppage) Pride: Bushido 6 April 3, 2005 1 10:00 Yokohama, Japan
Win 26–15–2 Ron Waterman Decision (unanimous) Pancrase: Brave 10 November 7, 2004 3 5:00 Urayasu, Japan Won Pancrase Super Heavyweight Championship
Win 25–15–2 Ricardo Morais Decision (unanimous) NJPW: Ultimate Crush October 13, 2003 3 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 24–15–2 Dolgorsürengiin Sumyaabazar TKO (doctor stoppage) NJPW: Ultimate Crush May 2, 2003 1 2:56 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 23–15–2 Antônio Rogério Nogueira Decision (unanimous) Deep - 6th Impact September 7, 2002 3 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 23–14–2 Ricco Rodriguez TKO (punches) UFC 37 May 10, 2002 2 3:25 Bossier City, Louisiana, United States
Loss 23–13–2 Bazigit Atajev Decision (majority) Rings: World Title Series 5 December 21, 2001 3 5:00 Yokohama, Japan
Win 23–12–2 Koba Tkeshelashvili KO (knee) Rings: 10th Anniversary August 11, 2001 1 2:17 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 22–12–2 Renato Sobral Decision (majority) Rings: World Title Series 2 June 15, 2001 3 5:00 Yokohama, Japan
Loss 22–11–2 Randy Couture Decision (unanimous) Rings: King of Kings 2000 Final February 24, 2001 2 5:00 Tokyo, Japan King of Kings 2000 Tournament Quarterfinal
Win 22–10–2 Fedor Emelianenko TKO (doctor stoppage) Rings: King of Kings 2000 Block B December 22, 2000 1 00:17 Osaka, Japan King of Kings 2000 Tournament 2nd Round. Kohsaka cut Emelianenko with an illegal elbow, which led to doctor stoppage
Win 21–10–2 Mikhail Ilyukhin KO (punches) Rings: King of Kings 2000 Block B December 22, 2000 2 01:53 Osaka, Japan King of Kings 2000 Tournament 1st Round
Draw 20–10–2 Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira Draw Rings: Millennium Combine 3 August 23, 2000 2 5:00 Osaka, Japan
Win 20–10–1 Greg Wikan Submission (toe hold) Rings USA: Rising Stars Block A July 15, 2000 1 02:53 Orem, Utah, United States Rising Stars Heavyweight Tournament 2000 2nd Round. Later pulls out due to injury
Win 19–10–1 Travis Fulton Decision (unanimous) Rings USA: Rising Stars Block A July 15, 2000 3 05:00 Orem, Utah, United States Rising Stars Heavyweight Tournament 2000 1st Round
Loss 18–10–1 Gilbert Yvel TKO (cut) Rings: King of Kings 1999 Block B December 22, 1999 3 05:00 Osaka, Japan
Win 18–9–1 Chris Haseman Decision (split) Rings: King of Kings 1999 Block B December 22, 1999 1 01:17 Osaka, Japan
Loss 17–9–1 Pedro Rizzo TKO (punches) UFC 23 November 19, 1999 3 01:12 Urayasu, Japan
Win 17–8–1 Gilbert Yvel Technical Decision (lost points) Rings: Rise 5th August 19, 1999 1 08:17 Japan
Win 16–8–1 Tim Lajcik TKO (corner stoppage) UFC 21 July 16, 1999 2 05:00 Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States
Loss 15–8–1 Yoshihisa Yamamoto TKO (palm strikes) Rings: Rise 3rd May 22, 1999 3 00:44 Japan
Loss 15–7–1 Gilbert Yvel TKO (doctor stoppage) Rings: Rise 2nd April 23, 1999 1 14:58 Japan
Loss 15–6–1 Bas Rutten TKO (punches) UFC 18 January 8, 1999 1 14:15 Kenner, Louisiana, United States Road to the Heavyweight Title Tournament Semifinals
Win 15–5–1 Pete Williams Decision UFC Brazil October 16, 1998 1 15:00 São Paulo, Brazil Qualifies for the Road to the Heavyweight Title Tournament
Draw 14–5–1 Kiyoshi Tamura Draw Rings: Fourth Fighting Integration June 27, 1998 1 30:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 14–5 Volk Han Submission Rings: Third Fighting Integration May 29, 1998 1 10:10 Tokyo, Japan
Win 13–5 Kimo Leopoldo Decision (unanimous) UFC 16 March 13, 1998 1 15:00 Kenner, Louisiana, United States
Win 12–5 Rob van Esdonk Submission (heel hook) Rings Holland: The King of Rings February 8, 1998 2 0:57 Amsterdam, Netherlands
Loss 11–5 Mikhail Ilyukhin N/A Rings: Battle Dimensions Tournament 1997 Final January 21, 1998 N/A N/A
Win 11–4 Jerry Askoff N/A Rings: Battle Dimensions Tournament 1997 Opening Round[12] October 25, 1997 N/A N/A United States
Win 10–4 Borislav Jeliazkov Decision (lost points) Rings - Mega Battle Tournament 1997 Semifinal 1 October 25, 1997 1 00:00 Japan
Loss 9–4 Frank Shamrock Decision Rings - Extension Fighting 7 September 26, 1997 1 30:00 Japan
Loss 9–3 Kiyoshi Tamura Submission (toe hold) Rings - Extension Fighting 2 April 22, 1997 1 13:57 Japan
Win 9–2 Mikhail Ilyukhin N/A Rings - Budokan Hall 1997 January 22, 1997 N/A N/A Tokyo, Japan
Loss 8–2 Volk Han Submission (armbar) Rings - Battle Dimensions Tournament 1996 Final January 1, 1997 1 13:52
Win 8–1 Dick Vrij N/A Rings - Battle Dimensions Tournament 1996 Opening Round October 25, 1996 N/A N/A
Loss 7–1 Volk Han Submission (armbar) Rings - Maelstrom 6 August 24, 1996 1 13:52 Japan
Win 7–0 Scott Sollivan Submission (arm-triangle choke) Various Fights[13] June 6, 1996 1 2:58 United States
Win 6–0 Willie Peeters Submission (rear-naked choke) Rings Holland - Kings of Martial Arts February 18, 1996 N/A N/A Amsterdam, Netherlands
Win 5–0 Maurice Smith Submission (heel hook) Rings - Budokan Hall 1996 January 24, 1996 1 4:13 Tokyo, Japan
Win 4–0 Egan Inoue Decision (unanimous) Lumax Cup: Tournament of J '95 October 13, 1995 1 3:40 Japan Won Lumax Cup Tournament of J '95
Win 3–0 Susumu Yamasaki Submission (heel hook) Lumax Cup: Tournament of J '95 October 13, 1995 1 0:52 Japan Tournament of J '95 Semifinals
Win 2–0 Hiroyuki Yoshioka TKO (punches) Lumax Cup: Tournament of J '95 October 13, 1995 3 3:00 Japan Tournament of J '95 First Round
Win 1–0 Wataru Sakata N/A Rings - Budokan Hall 1995 January 25, 1995 N/A N/A Tokyo, Japan

Submission grappling record[edit]

Result Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Notes
Loss Brazil Fabrício Werdum Points ADCC 2003 +99 kg 2003 1
Loss Brazil Jean-Jacques Machado Submission (armbar) ADCC 2001 Absolute 2001 1 3:37
Loss Brazil Rolles Gracie Points ADCC 2001 -99 kg 2001 1
Loss United States Tom Erikson Decision The Contenders 1997 5 5:00


External links[edit]