There were many developments that came out of the UFC’s second Versus event held in the San Diego Sports Arena—namely, the revitalized state of Japanese MMA in America, thanks to two of the most successful fighters from the Land of the Rising Sun: Takanori Gomi and Yushin Okami.
These notable wins were over tough competitors in their respective divisions, making the victories even more impressive and equally important for Gomi, who, in a way, had something to prove after his lackluster debut in the octagon against top contender Kenny Florian back at the end of March.
Yushin Okami put a halt to the momentous raise of Mark Munoz, a national wrestling champion fighting out of Black House. During the bout, both men landed some good shots, Munoz’s on the heavier side while Okami’s were more precise.
But what pushed Okami over the top for the split decision win, correctly judged or not, was his ability to avoid Munoz’s devastating ground and pound by exercising a very powerful sprawl whenever the take down was attempted.
Denying Munoz of a takedown is no easy task considering his wrestling pedigree. It was a testament to, not only Okami’s impressive takedown defense, but also to Chael Sonnen’s high level wresting abilities. The No. 1 middleweight contender has tossed around the likes of Nate Marquardt and Yushin Okami due to his relentless pace and fierce shot—keys to a potential victory in his upcoming title fight against Anderson Silva.
With UFC 117, an incredibly stacked card on paper, still a few days away, UFC on Versus 2 was a great way to open up what will possibly be the busiest month of MMA in 2010, providing a plethora of exciting moments.
The show concluded with the continuation of Jon “Bones” Jones’ emphatic tear through the light-heavy division, after he made quick work of seasoned veteran Vladimir Matyushenko in the first round. The hype machine behind this 23-year-old prospect-turned-contender is in healthier form than the resurgence of interest in the state of stateside Japanese MMA—and rightfully so.
Jones is arguably the most touted, respected, humble and talented impending superstar the UFC has ever produced since maybe Georges St. Pierre. What’s more mind boggling about Jones’ raise up the ranks is his ability to not allow the surrounding hype to affect his mental toughness in the cage.
Simply put: he is the Junior Dos Santos of the 205lbs division—or maybe it’s the other way around. Regardless, these guys are the truth at their respective weight classes—the product of a highly evolved third generation of fighter.