Jushin “Thunder” Liger’s historic pro wrestling career is finally set to come to an end next year. While he’s become a legend inside the squared circle, did you know that he has also competed in mixed martial arts?
He actually fought the combat sports pioneer and fellow pro wrestling legend Minoru Suzuki at Pancrase – Spirit 8. The event took place Nov. 30, 2002, which was more than six years after Liger had a surgery to remove a brain tumor. This wasn’t the planned main event for the card, as the legendary Kensuke Sasaki was supposed to compete but got injured during training.
The bout wound up being quite one-sided. Suzuki was the far more experienced shoot fighter as he had been competing in professional fights since the late 80s and had compiled a record of 28-19 going into the fight. With victories over Guy Mezger, Ken Shamrock, Matt Hume, and Maurice Smith, it was no surprise that he wound up securing a rear naked choke in less than two minutes.
The unique fight had Liger even compete while wearing a modified mask, so he didn’t reveal his identity to the crowd. It would wind up being Suzuki’s second last MMA fight. He didn’t compete for a decade until he faced Hans Nijman, who he submitted via kneebar, in March 2013.
Check out the full match below: