Yushin Okami Wants to 'Smash' Jacare Souza and Prove He's the No. 1 Middleweight
It's hard to imagine the No. 3 fighter in the world in any weight class flying under the radar, but that's exactly where Yushin Okami finds himself as he heads into his next bout against Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza this Wednesday at UFC Fight Night 28.
Okami has never been accused of being the flashiest fighter on the planet, and with a language barrier that once almost got him shot by Chael Sonnen's mother, he's not usually the one on television giving searing interviews and calling out opponents.
What Okami does do and has done almost better than any other middleweight over the last seven years in the UFC is win fights.
Okami's resume is littered with top-10 fighters, former champions and ranked contenders, so it's somewhat mysterious, despite all these accolades and accomplishments, that he enters his fight against Souza as one of the biggest underdogs on the card.
Okami is currently listed as high as a +230-underdog to Souza, who will fight in the UFC for only the second time on Wednesday night.
"I have no idea why people are thinking that way," Okami said when hearing about the odds. "I really do not care what people are talking about.
"I know that Jacare is a great athlete and a great fighter so he deserves that consideration. To me it's a great honor to fight against such a great fighter."
Whether the betting lines are for or against Okami, his job never changes. He's faced other competitors that were highly regarded prospects touted as being 'the next big thing,' and more often times than not, after spending 15 minutes in the cage with him they were going back to the drawing board trying to figure out where it all went wrong.
Okami's powerful wrestling has suffocated more than a few fighters in the Octagon, but this time he's facing one of the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners to ever step foot in the UFC. Okami is well aware of what Jacare does well, but that's not going to change what he does to every opponent.
It generally ends with them on their back feeling a little humiliated after spending the entire fight trying to get away from Okami's iron-clad grip.
"Jacare is not just a jiu-jitsu fighter, he's a specialist at jiu-jitsu," Okami said. "I am really careful about how I fight him in the ground fight, but I'm not afraid of fighting him on the ground."
As accomplished as he's been in his UFC career, a victory in Brazil would put Okami on a four-fight win streak—something he's never done before. While Okami lost in his only bid to win the UFC middleweight title back in 2011 when he lost to Anderson Silva at UFC 134, Okami is looking at the division with fresh eyes these days.
With Silva currently sitting as a challenger now instead of champion while Chris Weidman polishes the gold around his waist, Okami is ready to jump back into title contention starting on Wednesday night.
"Of course my goal is to become the top (fighter) in this division," Okami said. "So, I'm not satisfied with my ranking right now. If I beat Jacare, it's going to be a big step up for me to prove that I'm the No. 1 fighter in this division.
"By beating Jacare I'm going to be given that kind of right, but it's not only important to win, but how I win the fight. Always, I'm going to fight whoever the UFC wants me to fight."
Call it style points or call it the best way to be remembered, but just beating an opponent doesn't always get a fighter's name called when it comes time for fight night bonuses or getting the Internet buzzing after a performance. Okami is aware of that factor, as well, so he doesn't just want to beat Jacare—he wants to annihilate him.
"I'm going to utilize all of my MMA techniques, and I'm going to wear him down and I'm going to smash him."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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