Details On WWE Star Shinsuke Nakamura's Recent UFC Appearance

Former WWE Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura made headlines at the end of June when it was announced he would be cornering his good friend Rei Tsuruya for the latter's fight at UFC 303 in Las Vegas. Tsuruya walked away with the unanimous decision victory over Carlos Hernandez, and even did Nakamura's trademark pose with the WWE star after the official decision was announced.


While Tsuruya's next fight is yet to be announced at time of writing, Dave Meltzer had some additional details on how Nakamura being in Tsuruya's corner came to be in the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter. According to Meltzer, Nakamura is not only friends with Tsuruya, but his father as well, even training with him when Nakamura himself was pursuing MMA earlier in his career. Tsuruya's father was reportedly the one who asked Nakamura to be in his son's corner, to which Nakamura accepted since the "King of Strong Style" wanted to feel the experience of being at a UFC event.

After attending a UFC fight early in his career, Nakamura had been asked to fight in the UFC by former matchmaker Joe Silva. Meltzer claims Silva was the biggest fan of Japanese wrestling in the UFC, as were a lot of UFC executives at the time, with Joshi legend Manami Toyota being a particular favorite. Nakamura decided to stay loyal to NJPW, believing that NJPW President Antonio Inoki wouldn't sanction it. The UFC could have done what PRIDE FC did in the early 2000s by having Japanese wrestlers have sanctioned MMA fights due to the sports rising popularity at the time, but nothing ever came of it, which Nakamura reportedly regretted, as he wishes he could've had at least one UFC bout.