In an entirely unexpected development, it’s been announced that long-time UFC middleweight fighter Yushin Okami has been released by the organization.
His exit follows a first round TKO loss to Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza earlier this month at UFC Fight Night 28, but prior to that he had recorded three victories in a row, including decision wins over Alan Belcher and Hector Lombard.
Arguably the most successful Japanese fighter to compete in the UFC, Okami had been competing in the organization since 2006 and fought for Anderson Silva for the middleweight title in 2011, losing out by second round TKO, and prior to his release was the No.6 ranked contender in the division.
So, why was he given his marching orders then?
While no reason has officially been given, it’s likely that Okami is falling in the footsteps of others like who have been penalized not for their fight records, but rather for their less-than-entertaining fighting style.
Like Jon Fitch for instance, Okami relied heavily on his grappling ability to smother his opponents on the mat which often lead to the kind of action-light, uneventful fights that fans are not enthused by and the UFC brass frowns upon.
Still, given his standing in the division, his long relationship with the promotion and the fact that he’s coming off just a single loss it’s a very harsh decision by the promotion that somewhat erodes the idea that the Octagon is where the sport’s best fighters compete.
Overall the 32 year-old leaves with a 13-5 UFC record and a career total of 29-8. It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up next – Bellator have shown an interest in ex-UFC fighters, but hesitated to sign Fitch due to his unappealing fighting style, so they may chose to pass on Okami too.
Fitch ended up in the World Series Of Fighting promotion so that’s certainly a possibility, while Asian promotion ONE FC would also surely have a strong interest in one of the regions best known stars.