Don Frye opted to leave the UFC for pro-wrestling after the ‘Ultimate Ultimate 96’ event, despite the fact that he’d actually won the tournament that night.
Frye trained with the likes of WWF’s ‘Mr Perfect’ before debuting in New Japan Pro-Wrestling in the summer of 1997 against future PRIDE fighter Kazuyuki Fujita, and after emerging victorious he’d become a star playing a ‘heel’ role in the promotion.
The biggest match of Frye’s pro-wrestling career took place in 1998 when he won a tournament that gave him the honor of being the legendary Antonio Inoki’s last opponent before his retirement.
Frye would continue to be a prominent star in the organization until 2001 when he decided to return to MMA and signed for PRIDE.
Frye would make sporadic appearances in Japan as a wrestler over the years, but despite his popularity there, he never had the opportunity to compete in a U.S. organization like the WWE, admitting after retiring that he’d burned his bridges by bad-mouthing the company – something he now regrets.