Two Japanese stars ‘Kid’ Yamamato and Michihiro Omigawa came away empty-handed in the prelims at UFC 126 this evening.
Yamamoto was up first and it always looked like being a challenging debut for him against the talented Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson who was beginning to emerge as a real force at bantamweight before joining the UFC, and so it proved to be.
The Japanese favorite appeared a little hesitant and struggled to find his rhythm against the extremely quick Johnson, and found himself taken down with ease repeatedly over the course of the three rounds that followed.
Yamamoto did show good technique to consistently get back to his feet, but once their he found himself unable to land anything meaningful on his constantly active opponent.
In the end it went to the judges who had an easy task handing ‘Mighty Mouse’ a unanimous decision victory, and he’ll deservedly take all the acolades here while Yamamoto has to go back to the drawing board.
Up next was Omigawa who’s been in the UFC before briefly as a lightweight, losing two fights before being cut. Rejuvenated by a move down to featherweight, going 8-1 in the process, he returned to the Octagon looking for a fresh start.
Like Yamamoto he was facing another rising star from the WEC’s ranks in Chad Mendes, and again it was the U.S fighter who got the better of the action.
Omigawa started well by stuffing Mendes early takedowns, something that few fighters can claim to have done. Mendes is evolving into more than just a pure wrestler though, and he began to demonstrate his improving striking skills to good effect before finally getting Omigawa down later in the round.
Mendes continued to be effective in the stand-up in the following rounds, bloodying his opponents nose early in the second, and though he wasn’t able to secure all his takedown attempts he did so enough to land some punishing ground and pound that opened up a large cut above Omigawa’s left eye.
Omigawa showed heart to stay in the fight until the end and continued to press forward, but the fight was moving towards an inevitable conclusion, and Mendes was given a clean sweep on the judges scorecards.
Overall it was a great night for both Mendes and Johnson who showcased their skills well in their UFC debuts, but a very disappointing one for the Japanese contingent.