Top-10 middleweight contender Yushin Okami has been released by the UFC. The surprising move comes in the wake of his one-round beat down at the hands of Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza at UFC Fight Night 28.
“Thunder” had been hoping a victory in that fight would be a springboard to another possible title run; instead, it spelled his demise with the organization after an 18-fight run. Prior to the Souza loss, Okami had actually been riding a three-fight win streak with victories over Buddy Roberts, Alan Belcher and Hector Lombard. However, he was just 3-3 in his last six fights in the Octagon, with all three losses coming by way of TKO.
Okami’s release is probably the most high-profile since the company cut ties with former welterweight title challenger Jon Fitch. Interestingly enough, both fighters were seen as ultimate grinders with their styles, and many of their fights weren’t tremendously high in entertainment value.
However, going 13-5 during his UFC tenure is no small accomplishment, and no doubt there will be many feeling as though the Japanese fighter was worthy of another chance at redemption before being cut loose. Okami’s highest-profile fight came back at UFC 134 when he failed in a title opportunity against then middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Silva recorded a dominant second-round stoppage.
Okami competed against the best during his seven-year run with the organization, and posted victories against the likes of Nate Marquardt, Mark Munoz and Mike Swick. He also fought against Chael Sonnen and Rich Franklin, losing by decision against both.
A prevailing theory tended to be if you wanted to show you were championship stock at 185 pounds, you’d have to work your way through Okami at some point. Souza passed his test with flying colors, but little did we know that it would be the last time we’d see Okami in the Octagon. At the time of his release, he stood at no. 6 in the UFC’S own middleweight top-10 rankings.
There are probably a number of high-profile fighters who are glad that they won’t have to test themselves against Okami’s strength and grappling skills moving forward. He wasn’t the most exciting fighter, but he was a pretty difficult competitor for anyone to deal with on most nights.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports