Pride 21: Demolition on June 23, 2002, at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan featured the league debut of future MMA heavyweight G.O.A.T. Fedor Emelianenko and future UFC G.O.A.T. Anderson Silva. And in the main event, Don Frye and Yoshihiro Takayama engaged in the manliest fight in the history of combat sports.
There is no other way to describe this:
Last year Frye suffered potentially life threatening medical issues, but is recovering. Takayama is far, far worse.
At a DDT professional wrestling show on May 4, 2017, Takayama attempted a sunset flip on Yasu Urano and landed on his head. He was diagnosed with “cervical spinal cord injury due to degenerative cervical spondylosis.” On August 6 it was reported that Takayama was paralyzed from the neck down. On September 4 it was reported that Takayama could breathe on his own, but the paralysis from the shoulders down was apparently permanent. A Japanese language Takayamania fund was set up to help defray costs.
Now Frye has released a heartbreaking message, saying this could be goodbye.
“Takayama-san, God gave me the greatest opponent anybody could ever ask for, you,” began a visibly diminished Frye. “You made the greatest fight the world has ever seen. You are the reason that our fight beat the World Cup of soccer head to head on TV. You are the image of Bushido and strength and triumph. You are the first person everyone asks about when they meet me. You are the warrior we all look to be.
“Tayama-san, if you are done with this life, in this adventure, and wish to move on, good luck. We are not ready to lose you, and let you go. Therefore we will always remember you. But if you must go sir, God Speed.”
Hopefully this story has a happy ending, but the backside of combat sports only rarely does.