UFC 155 Results: What's Next for Yushin Okami?

Steven RondinaFeatured ColumnistDecember 30, 2012

Yushin Okami earned himself a big win by dominating hotshot middleweight Alan Belcher.
Yushin Okami earned himself a big win by dominating hotshot middleweight Alan Belcher.Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Whenever people discuss the similarities between specific fighters, the two guys I've always thought to be the most similar are Jon Fitch and Yushin Okami.

Both have won the staggering majority of their UFC fights, and both have done so with a grinding, distance-focused gameplan. Both of them have also suffered for it in terms of getting title shots, and both of them are very, very far from getting another title fight at this point.

It is an unfortunate fact for Yushin Okami. He needed 10 wins in the UFC before he was considered for his first title shot, and when he finally got to fight Anderson Silva, he was knocked out in devastating fashion.

For the handful of Yushin Okami fans out there, it was a crushing disappointment. After all, it was Silva's second fight after being dominated on the ground by Chael Sonnen at UFC 117. Okami is, and remains, one of the two most physically-imposing middleweights, but that does not help you fight somebody you are scared of. This unfortunate fact led to Okami getting savagely beaten down by Silva, which will likely keep him from ever fighting Silva again.

This is not not unfamiliar territory for Okami, though. He has been, seemingly, impossibly far from a title shot before.

The problem now, though, is that Anderson Silva is 37 years old (38 in April), and he knows it. He will probably be holding out for big-money fights from here on out in his MMA career. Okami is not, never has been, and never will be, a big-money opponent.

It's why he pushed so hard for a bout with Georges St-Pierre, and it's why he's trying to set up a fight with Michael Bisping right now.

Anderson Silva, as long as he stays atop the middleweight division, will keep Okami from fighting for a belt again. At 31, Okami can wait it out. He can hope Silva vacates the belt, as gets discussed so often.

Regardless, Okami's position for the immediate future remains entirely the same either way.

Yushin Okami just needs to keep being Yushin Okami. He just needs to keep being a physically huge middleweight, and keep on using that to beat people with ease. Okami just needs to do his thing, keep stringing together wins, and not think about the rest of the division.

That, in all likelihood, is precisely what is next for Yushin Okami. He will keep being a very difficult gate keeper for up-and-coming middleweights like Alan Belcher, and he will keep being a great guy to stick at the bottom of main card fights.

There are a load of compelling fights that can be made with Okami. He could be matched up against Strikeforce grappler Tim Kennedy or he could be matched against the loser of Brian Stann vs. Wanderlei Silva.

The best opponent, by far, would be Costa Philippou. Philippou beat Tim Boetsch, but a crazy string of bad luck for Boetsch—he broke his hand in the first round, got cut from an unintentional headbutt, had one eye swell shut, and got poked in the other—sours the occasion a bit. He still really needs to prove himself in the middleweight division's upper echelon and that is, precisely, where Yushin Okami has historically set in.

The scheduling is perfect, and the bout itself is a great “striker vs. grappler” job. It's a fight that the UFC can easily make happen, and is a fight that many would like to see.