MMAFighting.com is reporting that former UFC middleweight title contender Yushin Okami has found a new home with the World Series of Fighting. WSOF President Ray Sefo, speaking with Ariel Helwani, confirmed that "Thunder" agreed to a multi-fight exclusive deal with the upstart promotion.
Sefo predicted that Okami would make his debut "around March 2014," but was unsure regarding a specific date or opponent.
Okami was controversially released last month following a harsh knockout loss to former Strikeforce contender Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza. While Okami lost that bout, he was 3-1 in his last four fights, and 13-5 overall. He was widely ranked in the top five of the 185-lb division when he was cut, but his grinding, wrestling-based fighting style alienated some fans.
WSOF has been actively picking up fighters cut by the UFC who were likely cut due to their distance-focused approach. Jon Fitch was released from the promotion with a 14-3-1 record. Unlike Okami, however, Fitch was 1-2-1 in his last four fights, and actually lost his WSOF debut in a rematch against Josh Burkman.
In addition to Fitch, WSOF has picked up Jacob Volkmann (6-4 in the UFC) and David Branch (3-1). Both fighters are undefeated in the promotion.
There are several interesting middleweights currently fighting in WSOF. The promotion currently has a middleweight tournament going on to determine who its first champion will be. The winner of Elvis Mutapcic vs. Jesse Taylor will fight David Branch (another UFC alumnus) for the inaugural middleweight belt.
Having Okami fight the eventual champion, or having him face off with the loser of the promotion's first title fight, both make sense.