55 Facts About Masakatsu Funaki


Masaharu Funaki is a Japanese actor, mixed martial artist and professional wrestler known professionally as Masakatsu Funaki, who has previously wrestled in All Japan Pro Wrestling, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi, Newborn UWF, and Wrestle-1.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,493

Masakatsu Funaki is the co-founder of Pancrase, one of the first mixed martial arts organizations and non-rehearsed shoot wrestling promotions.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,494

Not only the organization's co-founder and most popular fighter, Masakatsu Funaki was one of Pancrase's most successful fighters to date, scoring submission victories over numerous MMA champions such as Ken Shamrock, Frank Shamrock, Semmy Schilt, Guy Mezger, Yuki Kondo, Minoru Suzuki, and Bas Rutten through the course of his Pancrase career.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,495

Masakatsu Funaki 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.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,496

Masakatsu Funaki is widely considered to be one of the greatest Japanese fighters in mixed martial arts history.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,497

Masakatsu Funaki idolized Bruce Lee above all others, but eagerly watched the films of Sammo Hung and Sonny Chiba.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,498

Masakatsu Funaki was in the same class as Keiichi Yamada, Keiji Mutoh, Shinya Hashimoto, Minoru Suzuki, Masahiro Chono, and Chris Benoit.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,499

However, Masakatsu Funaki stunned the New Japan trainers with his athleticism, timing and natural talent for submission grappling.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,500

Masakatsu Funaki debuted as a junior heavyweight at the age of 15; a record for the youngest debut in NJPW.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,501

Masakatsu Funaki did, often teaming with fellow wrestler Akira Nogami have many memorable matches with Yoji Anjo and Tatsuo Nakano belonging to UWF and became the first person to take the Shooting Star Press from Yamada.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,502

Masakatsu Funaki, seeing an opportunity to shine and showcase his talents, wanted to follow.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,503

In Newborn UWF, Masakatsu Funaki became a top draw for the promotion acting as a nemesis to Akira Maeda.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,504

When Newborn UWF folded in December 1990, Masakatsu Funaki decided to sign with mentor Fujiwara's new Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi promotion.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,505

Masakatsu Funaki left PWFG in 1993 to form the mixed martial arts promotion Pancrase.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,506

Around the same time, Masakatsu Funaki was scouted by K-1 executive Kazuyoshi Ishii to compete in their '93 GP tournament, but he declined, having set his sights on MMA.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,507

Masakatsu Funaki went on to defeat Bas Rutten, Ken Shamrock, Frank Shamrock, Minoru Suzuki, and Guy Mezger, among others.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,508

Masakatsu Funaki took the idea of submissions to an even higher level than the rest of the Japanese contingent.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,509

Masakatsu Funaki had this insatiable desire to learn more and push his body harder.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,510

Unfortunately, Masakatsu Funaki mistakenly allowed himself to get too far from the ropes and was forced to tap out.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,511

Masakatsu Funaki debuted in the main event of Pancrase's first show, taking on apprentice and training partner Ken Shamrock.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,512

Masakatsu Funaki got his first victory at the next event, showing his submission skills by catching Ryushi Yanagisawa first in a heel hook and later in a kneebar in under two minutes for the victory.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,513

Masakatsu Funaki closed the first four Pancrase events with a win against Kazuo "Yoshiki" Takahashi, overwhelming him with palm strikes and knees to the face for the KO.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,514

Opening 1994, Masakatsu Funaki faced another Dutch martial arts exponent in the form of Bas Rutten.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,515

Masakatsu led him to the ground and sieged Rutten's guard, and after the Dutchman got distracted after an accidental illegal strike, Funaki caught his leg and executed a toehold, making his opponent submit.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,516

Later in the year, Masakatsu Funaki got his revenge against Ken Shamrock just days before the latter's participation in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, choking him out with a rear naked choke.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,517

Masakatsu Funaki submitted Todd Bjornethun at the first round with a sequence of yoko-tomoe-nage into mount to armbar, and then faced Vernon White in a longer match, with Funaki making a wide usage of triangle chokes and sweeps in order to get a top wrist lock.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,518

Finally, Funaki faced Ken Shamrock for a third time at the finals, but although Masakatsu was able to fend Ken off for several minutes, he was mounted and submitted with an arm triangle choke, the same hold Shamrock had used in their first match.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,519

In 1995, after taking revenge on Jason DeLucia by defeating him via submission, Masakatsu Funaki was pitted against Frank Shamrock, Ken's adoptive brother and next rising star of the company.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,520

Masakatsu Funaki bounced back against Pancrase rookie Guy Mezger in a back and forth match, which saw Mezger dominating the action with kicks, strikes and pressure until Masakatsu Funaki clamped an achilles lock to get the win.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,521

Masakatsu Funaki mocked Frank, keeping his hands low and even throwing a flying spinning heel kick in an instance, but he was caught in a choke and forced to spend a rope escape before returning the favor with a triangle armbar.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,522

Masakatsu Funaki got the advantage in points with a rolling toehold, but he then was shockingly forced to tap out in a leglock exchange, losing the match.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,523

At Pancrase 1996 Anniversary Show, Masakatsu Funaki challenged King of Pancrase Bas Rutten in what is considered to be one of the greatest fights in Pancrase history.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,524

Masakatsu Funaki came close to finishing the match earlier with an ankle lock, but Rutten miraculously escaped and continued to fight.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,525

Stunned, Masakatsu Funaki tried to stand up with Rutten, only for Bas to capitalize with his famed striking game.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,526

Masakatsu Funaki departed from Pancrase after a win over Tony Petarra in September 1999 due to accumulated injuries and, according to fellow Pancrase fighter Bas Rutten, being burnt out from the hectic Pancrase schedule.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,527

Masakatsu Funaki walked to the ring in samurai attire with a samurai sword which garnered a roaring excitement from the Japanese announcers and crowd.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,528

Masakatsu Funaki then took Rickson down, relinquishing the choke as they hit the mat and landing a hammer-fist to Rickson's face before standing up.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,529

Masakatsu Funaki looked stunned while Rickson bloodied his face with ground and pound, and finally Gracie forced his way into a rear-naked choke.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,530

Masakatsu Funaki refused to submit to the hold, passing out before the referee intervened.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,531

Masakatsu Funaki then retired from mixed martial arts competition, he had a retirement ceremony in Pancrase in late 2000.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,532

On December 31,2007, Masakatsu Funaki came out of retirement to fight Kazushi Sakuraba, who had just defeated Masakatsu Funaki's apprentice Katsuyori Shibata.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,533

Masakatsu Funaki closed guard around Sakuraba before opening it up to spin for a kneebar, and for a moment Masakatsu Funaki appeared to secure Sakuraba's leg, but he was thwarted by a combination of Sakuraba's submission acumen and their position against the ring ropes.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,534

Kazushi then returned himself to the ground, where Masakatsu Funaki immediately attempted to sweep him, but Sakuraba blocked the attempt and secured a double wristlock, eventually forcing Masakatsu Funaki to submit.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,535

Masakatsu Funaki signed a contract with Fighting and Entertainment Group's MMA promotion, DREAM.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,536

Masakatsu Funaki was matched against Kiyoshi Tamura at the opening round of the Dream 2: Middleweight Grand Prix 2008 First Round in Saitama, Japan.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,537

At 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, Masakatsu Funaki was matched with one of his former Pancrase students, "Minowaman" Ikuhisa Minowa.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,538

Minowa escaped the hold, but Masakatsu 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.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,539

On January 4,2012, Masakatsu 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 team of Yuji Nagata and Wataru Inoue.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,540

In June 2013, Masakatsu 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.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,541

On July 10,2013, Masakatsu Funaki was announced as part of Keiji Mutoh's new Wrestle-1 promotion.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,542

Three days later, Masakatsu Funaki entered the Wrestle-1 Championship tournament, defeating Tajiri in his first round match.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,543

The following day, Masakatsu Funaki defeated Akira to advance to the semifinals of the tournament.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,544

In June 2015, it was announced that Masakatsu Funaki would be leaving Wrestle-1 and going freelance following his contract expiring at the end of the month.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,545

Masakatsu Funaki wrestled his first match as a freelancer on August 18,2015, at a Masahito Kakihara cancer benefit show, where he and Minoru Suzuki defeated Mitsuya Nagai and Takaku Fuke.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,546

Masakatsu Funaki lost the title to Daisuke Sekimoto on December 9, before regaining it on June 23,2016.

FactSnippet No. 1,822,547