The passing of Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto late Monday night was met with shock and grief around the MMA community.

Yamamoto, a legend in the sport, passed away while fighting cancer. He announced this past August that he was diagnosed, and was battling the disease in hopes of defeating it.

Along with his incredible career in Japan, Yamamoto fought for the UFC. He was a three-time prep wrestling champion in Arizona before turning his focus to MMA, returning to wrestling in hopes of securing Olympic gold.

The Japan MMA Federation issued a statement on the passing:

We are in deep sorrow to hear that “Kid” passed away.

Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto began his sensational MMA career in 2001, the beginning of 21st century.

Just few years later, he grew to become the embodiment of modern MMA in Japan. Kid became the superstar of Japanese MMA and was influential in widely opening the market for recognition of smaller weight competitors.

Kid fought not only MMA, but also in K-1 rules. Despite regularly being the smallest competitor, he showed great skill, ability and spirit that moved entire audiences.

Many athletes of the Japan MMA Federation (JMMAF) say how Kid is their favorite fighter and inspiration for starting their own journey in MMA.

From athletes, coaches, officials and fans, Japan loves you and respects you, Kid.

Never to be forgotten, thank you and forever,

The Japan MMA Federation.

Several fighters and MMA personalities have also offered their thoughts and prayers to his family: