"Thunder" Stuck: Why Yushin Okami Has Earned a Title Shot Against Anderson Silva

Elton HobsonCorrespondent IMarch 25, 2011

Ask any UFC fan this simple question: Who’s getting the next shot at Anderson Silva?

Answer: why Georges St. Pierre is, of course!

Ah yes, Silva vs. GSP. The Fight of the Century! The Battle to End All Battles! The greatest thing since sliced bread grew boobs (wait, what?).

Over the past year, the hypothetical Silva-St. Pierre fight has become the most talked about “superfight” since David moved up in weight to challenge for Goliath’s “Biblical Fighting Championship” heavyweight belt. And just like David, the winner of this clash of the titans will probably be made king of his own country in the event he wins, so big a fight this would be.

Of course I’m only joking. GSP is the de facto Emperor of Canada, Silva fight or not. No less an authority on international sports history than Dana White has already proclaimed GSP the most popular Canadian athlete of all time (suck it Wayne Gretzky, Lennox Lewis and Mike Weir!).

And what use would Anderson Silva have for a country when he lives in his own separate universe. You know, the same one where Steven Seagal teaches super secret finishing moves, and Silva vs. Maia is considered an all-time classic.

But with Dana White and even GSP seemingly on the fence about the potential P4P clash, I’m going to take this opportunity to plead a seemingly lost cause. See, lost amidst all this superfight hype is the solid, irrefutable case for a MW title shot presented by Yushin Okami.


C’mon, you know Mr. Okami, right? Big Asian dude, powerful wrestler, ever-improving striker, utter beefcake at 185 lbs…

Not ringing any bells? You’ve seen him fight before. Remember his extremely close fight with then No. 2 Middleweight Rich Franklin…which aired via tape delay from Ireland?

Ok, maybe you missed that one, but surely you saw his signature domination of top-five Nate Marquardt at UFC 123…which aired via tape delay from Germany. Ok, so you probably missed that one, too.

Damn, alright. How about the guy who looks like a Dragon Ball Z character and had a pretty sloppy brawl with Mark Munoz—on network TV, no less.

Wait, what? Yes, of course, there’s such a thing as the “Versus” network. Oh brother, have we got some work to do.

The big injustice here is that you should know who Yushin Okami is. His impressive UFC record—10 wins against only two losses, those against top-contenders Chael Sonnen and Rich Franklin, respectively—has certainly merited his placement as a top ranked MW.

And oh yeah, there’s that whole “he was the last guy to defeat Anderson Silva” thing going on, as well.

Sure, the fight was five years ago, and Okami “won” after Anderson was DQ’ed for an illegal upkick. But still, considering how utterly dominant Anderson has been the last few years, shouldn’t a recent win of any sort at least merit some consideration?

Hell, as far as I can tell, a DQ win over Jon Jones remains Matt Hamill’s biggest ever win on paper, and he’s facing “Rampage” Jackson in the co-main event of UFC 130 in May. Winning by default, after all, is still winning.

Unfortunately for “Thunder,” Mr. Okami has been held back by the “unholy trinity” of fan apathy. Let’s run the list, shall we?

First, he’s a “boring wrestler” which some fans of MMA (which, fun fact, includes wrestling) just can’t seem to abide without booing every 30 seconds. Even elite-level fighters can be passed over for title shots if they’re not “exciting” to the casual fan. Call it “Jon Fitch-itis.”

Second, he’s been featured either on the undercard, or on the main card of UFC’s no one cared about. Ok, that’s harsh, but the numbers show international cards on tape delay don’t draw. Okami has headlined two of these events. Both times, they were top- clashes with title implications.

Both times, fans largely passed.

And finally, Okami is a foreigner and ESL—so why should American fans care? The only time you hear fans chanting in a Yushin Okami fight is when the old “USA! USA!” chant (worst in MMA—sorry, Yanks) gets dusted off for another rousing display of patriotism mass intoxication.

GSP has said on many occasions that he needs time to bulk up to middleweight. Putting on the extra 15 or so pounds GSP wants to add before moving up would take serious time, especially for someone with his insane metabolism.

We’re talking six to eight months for GSP to add the pounds to his frame, get used to the new weight and get in the kind of full, comprehensive training camp you’d want before facing Anderson freakin’ Silva.

That’s plenty of time for the UFC to give Yushin his long deserved title shot. Sure, it puts a possible GSP-Silva clash in jeopardy. But it’s equal to the jeopardy Jake Shields is putting that same fight in this coming April, and no one seems to be sweating bullets.

Give Yushin his title shot. Do it to fill the time. Do it to keep Anderson’s wrestling sharp in advance of a GSP fight. Do it to make continued inroads into Asia with possibly the only Japanese fighter to ever truly dominate in the UFC.

As Russell Peters would say—be a man, do the right thing!

Give Yushin Okami his title shot.


By Elton Hobson