In football, you don’t release Wes Welker when he drops a couple of passes against Richard Sherman. In basketball, you don’t release J.R. Smith when he doesn’t score 20 points against the Heat, and in baseball you don’t fire your designated hitter when he gets struck out by Randy Johnson (in his prime). All the aforementioned scenarios is the opposite of what the UFC did when they released Yushin Okami.
Okami was the prime gatekeeper in the UFC middleweight division. He was great when it came to testing up-an-comers who wished to prove they deserved a title shot. In many other organizations, he would probably have been a champion by now.
When the word hit on Friday, it felt like deja vu all over again. It wasn’t long ago that many people were in shock when the UFC released Jon Fitch. Now they have released one of their best middleweights in Okami.
It wasn’t like Okami was on a losing streak when the UFC released him. In fact, prior to the Ronaldo Souza loss, Okami was on a three-fight win streak. The only time Okami suffered two straight losses was when he lost to then-champion Anderson Silva and Tim Boetsch.
At age 32, Okami had much more to offer the UFC and there were matches out there that could have been made. Okami’s status was perfect for a spot on a pay-per-view main card or a main event/co-main event on a televised card. A matchup with the surging Francis Carmont would have been perfect on a televised card. The UFC let the wrong one go in this case.
As they always say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Either the World Series of Fighting or Bellator will definitely benefit from this shocking development. Okami may not be the most exciting fighter in MMA, but he has the skill to make an impact in either organization.
The World Series of Fighting would be the best place to land for Okami, but Bellator would not be bad either. The fact is that Okami is a talented fighter that has the potential to dominate the middleweight division in any organization he so chooses.
Dana White or whomever made the decision simply made the wrong one.