Even though 15 years have passed since Don Frye and Yoshihiro Takayama threw down at Pride 21, their fight still remains one of the most insane brawls in combat sports history. It’s unforgettable, and pretty much the MMA equivalent of 1998’s King of the Ring, when the Undertaker threw Mankind off the Hell in a Cell, and Foley plummeted 16 feet through an announcer’s table.
Takayama, an accomplished and storied pro wrestler, had no business stepping into the Pride ring to fight a badass like Frye, but he did, and he wouldn’t give an inch. That night Takayama earned the respect of millions of MMA fans, and made the normally hushed and respectful Japanese crowd roar. The loss brought Takayama to 0-4 in his MMA career, but no one cared. The man had fought a murderer’s row of opponents, and no one thought less of him when he returned to the squared circle.
Now Takayama is paralyzed from the neck down after a freak accident, and Don Frye is reaching out to him after his own troubling bouts with ill health. In this very Frye video (of course, he’s leaning against a stock car in a garage because what else would he be doing beyond grilling meat or admiring a desert), the former UFC tournament winner gives a thoughtful message to Takayama:
“God gave me the greatest opponent anyone could ever ask for. You. You made the greatest fight the world has ever seen. You are the reason 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 asks about when they meet me.”
Let’s watch some highlights (the entire fight is pretty much one big highlight but you get what I mean):