UFC 134 Fight Card: Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami, Early Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Anderson Silva and Yushin Okami first squared off at the now-famous January 2006 Rumble on the Rock tournament that featured Jake Shields, Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit as well. Their first encounter ended in a controversial disqualification win for Okami when Silva threw an illegal upkick while Yushin was down.
We will probably never know why it happened. Did Anderson not understand the rules? Did he do it on accident thinking the Pride rule system was being used? We may never know exactly what was going through his head on that day.
Either way, this fight marked the last loss for UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and it is one that he wants back.
Silva has more of a reason than usual to train hard. Fighters yearn to avenge their losses to prove they are the better man indeed. Silva is even more motivated due to the fact that he feels Okami could have continued in their first fight and chose to take the easy way out.
And if there's one thing I know, an angry Anderson Silva is a scary man.
1. Standing Strikes
It is no secret that Silva is the best striker in mixed martial arts today. Anyone who saw his recent fight with Vitor Belfort in February knows that he can make even the best strikers look downright amateur. After finding his range for three minutes against Belfort, he unleashed a perfectly timed front kick to the jaw that ended the fight.
I had never seen that before.
Silva also made very quick work of light heavyweights James "Sandman" Irvin and Forrest Griffin. At UFC 101 in 2009, Silva slipped the rush attacks of Griffin and knocked the former UFC light heavyweight champion out with a falling away jab.
I was literally speechless after that fight. The fact that he could knock out a larger man was amazing in itself; couple that with the fact that it was Forrest Griffin and I think the entire world was in awe.
The bottom line here is that Yushin Okami has pretty decent hands and he can stand and trade shots with the best middleweights in the world. But, Anderson Silva is in a whole other league unto himself. The overwhelming advantage has to go to the champion.
If Silva has an Achilles heel, it would be his wrestling. Granted he is far superior to most other fighters in the world at both Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai kickboxing so I'm guessing that is why he has decided to live with this flaw in his game.
When he fought Chael Sonnen, he was taken down repeatedly and roughed up pretty good. Okami will look to do more of the same, except he will try to finish Anderson, something Sonnen could not do. Okami used good takedowns against guys like Nate Marquardt and Mark Munoz. Munoz is an outstanding wrestler, but Okami used his size and strikes to set up his takedown attempts.
If Okami can have even minimal success on the feet, he should be able to get Silva to the ground. He should, and will, look to take the fight down early and often. Silva's lack of wrestling and altogether disregard for it should make this Yushin's No. 1 attack in this fight.
The advantage here goes to Yushin Okami.
I'm sure that Yushin Okami has a good clinch game and that has been on display since he has been in the UFC on multiple occasions, but UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva has perhaps the best clinch in the UFC and his Muay Thai knee strikes from that clinch are absolutely vicious.
Just ask the nose of Rich Franklin.
Pictured above is Silva breaking Rich Franklin's nose with a knee from the clinch. Rich tried to break out of Anderson's clinch but it was to no avail. He ended up on the canvas thinking back to when he was considered the world's best middleweight, which was before this happened to his face.
Okami is a strong fighter in all aspects of the MMA game, but Anderson Silva's clinch is legendary. The advantage goes to the champion.
4. Ground and Pound
This is one aspect of MMA that Anderson Silva seems to either have no interest in or he simply ignores it. This may be due to his amazing standing strikes, clinch game and his jiu-jitsu. Either way, he ends up on his back more often than you would think.
Okami, on the other hand, loves to take his opponents down and sap their will by landing punches from the top. He even did a little of that on Anderson Silva in their first bout, which you can see above.
The fact that Anderson can be taken down combined with the seasoned ground-and-pound skill of Okami makes this aspect of the fight go to Yushin Okami hands down.
Okami may have the advantage over Anderson in the takedown and ground-and-pound game, but he is outmatched heavily in the submission game. Anderson Silva proved against Chael Sonnen last year that he can be dangerous off his back even when he is tired.
Silva has a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and has submitted Travis Lutter, Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen in the UFC. Okami needs to be very careful when throwing his ground-and-pound strikes; otherwise he will end up another victim of the solid submission game of the champion.
Okami has only four submission victories out of 26 career wins and Silva has only five submission wins in 28 career wins. However, Silva has submission victories over MMA standouts Chael Sonnen, Dan Henderson, Travis Lutter and Roan Carneiro. Okami has not submitted fighters of that level.
Silva has a great jiu-jitsu game and can attack with it even if he is tired and hurt. The advantage goes to Anderson Silva.
And the Winner Is...
Although Okami has advantages in the wrestling department and also with his ground and pound, it is hard to see Anderson losing this fight. Anything can happen in mixed martial arts, but Anderson is just simply awesome.
He is 13-0 in the UFC. That says it all.
Anderson is defending his belt, he is doing it against the last man to beat him and the fight is in his backyard of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. That is a perfect storm of ass-kicking right there.
Silva showed in the Chael Sonnen fight that not only can he be a front-running destructor, he can also come from behind and win when he needs to. He was being beaten on the feet and he was being battered on the ground for four-and-a-half rounds, yet he was still able to force a tapout in Round 5 by securing an awesome triangle choke.
He came from the brink of defeat and won that fight. It is even more extraordinary when we learned later on that he had badly hurt ribs entering the fight with Chael Sonnen.
The bottom line is that Anderson is not only a great fighter, but now he is very motivated to take it to Okami. Anderson will win this fight. Suffice it to say that Yushin is in trouble when he steps into the Octagon at UFC 134.