UFC Fight Night 28 Results: Who's Next for Yushin Okami and Ryan Bader?
Wednesday was yet another great showing for the UFC on Fox Sports 1. From the opening main card bell to the last referee stoppage, the Brazil crowd had something to chant about at every turn.
But during a night that featured four main card knockouts and one submission, some fighters felt the ugly backhand of defeat; none more than light heavyweight powerhouse Ryan Bader and middleweight top contender Yushin Okami.
For both men, Wednesday marked yet another opportunity to showcase their worth as current or future title threats. Bader was aiming to dethrone the Glover Teixeira hype train as Okami was trying to knock off one of the toughest guys in the division, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza.
In Bader's case, a former top dog in the division, he did what he needed to do when initially striking with Teixeira. He kept his distance, circled away from the power hand and mixed things up with a takedown attempt or two.
Everything looked directed toward a big first-round upset after Bader wobbled the Brazilian against the cage, but after looping three straight hooks from the same angle, Teixeira's superior boxing skills ultimately took over and culminated in a vicious finish.
Now on the wrong end of over-pursuing one of the best strikers in the division, Bader is forced back to the drawing board. He's still relevant, but in a growing division full of more well-rounded offensive fighters, he'll have to pick his matchups with caution.
One opponent for "Darth" to sink his saber into next would be none other than Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Rua hasn't shown the consistency of a top-10 light heavyweight over his past few fights, so he'll be looking to get back into the win column.
This is perfect for a fighter like Bader, whom people are starting to write off. While Rua isn't the great champion he once was, his name still carries weight in the sport.
Other guys like Jimi Manuwa, James Te Huna and Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante would all give Bader good fights and a chance to showcase his power wrestling.
In Okami's case, one of the most consistent contenders in recent middleweight memory, his future within the division is still undecided.
He's good enough to fight nearly anyone in the top 10, but with a lot of key names like Lyoto Machida, Michael Bisping, Mark Munoz, Tim Kennedy and Luke Rockhold already tied up until the new year, Okami will have to pick and choose his next opponent openly.
Who should Okami fight next?
And when it really comes down to it, the only worthy name out there without a fight is Thales Leites. The Brazilian was once a top UFC title threat and would certainly draw some interest.
However, matchmaker Joe Silva could always throw Okami to a young wolf bordering the division's top 10 like Brad Tavares.
Now even though a guy like Tavares hasn't really defeated any prominent figures in the weight class, he's still one of the hottest fighters outside of the core group of middleweights.
With that said, in culmination with a high-level grappling pedigree and the hunger for victory, Okami should be a huge favorite next time he steps inside the Octagon.
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