James Lowson of MMA Mount talks about the UFC’s decision to release Yushin Okima.
The UFC have released top ten middleweight Yushin Okami after his loss to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. The Japanese fighter was number six in the promotion’s official rankings and held 13-5 record in the octagon.
Okami wasn’t on the losing stretch normally expected of a released fighter, especially one as successful as himself. The 32 year old’s loss to the former Strikeforce champion snapped a three fight win streak, he out-pointed Alan Belcher and Hector Lombard, after a technical knockout win against Buddy Roberts. The gigantic 185 pounder earned a championship shot against Anderson Silva at UFC 134 but was dispatched by the “Spider” losing by technical knockout in round two.
“Thunder” spent a majority of his seven-year UFC tenure considered one of the top five fighters in his division. This is arguably the first time in several years Okami has been out of the proverbial title shot “mix” UFC president Dana White often talks about.
White offered an explanation for Okami departing the UFC in an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole. He said: “He’s been with us forever. He always been a tough guy and was right up there, but it’s almost like he’s become a gatekeeper. I like Okami and you’ve always heard me say this many times, that a win over Yushin Okami means something. But, he was never able to get over the hump and win one of those [significant] fights. We have a lot of guys coming in and I’ve been saying all year: we have a full roster and there are guys who deserve opportunities.”
There are many parallels between Okami’s release and that of Jon Fitch. Fitch was considered the second best welterweight in the world for a majority of his UFC stay. However a stigma that surrounded the American Kickboxing Academy fighter throughout his career was that his style was boring. After just two losses in three, the UFC got rid of the 35-year-old, citing the lucrative nature of his contract and the fact he was in decline as their reasons. However this was inconsistent with their treatment of other fighters. Fitch’s recent record was superior to that of Josh Koscheck who also makes more than the former title challenger. Fitch was ranked nine at welterweight in the UFC‘s rankings at the time of his release.
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