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Okami Earns Title Shot with UFC 122 Win

By on November 13, 2010

It took some patience, but Yushin Okami has finally cemented himself as an opponent for the UFC Middleweight Champion sometime in 2011. On Saturday night in Oberhausen, Germany, Okami defeated Nate Marquardt in a fight that wasn’t exactly scintillating, but saw him getting the job done in a tough fight.

After being misleadingly billed as “the last man to beat Anderson Silva” by play by play announcer Mike Goldberg (Okami won by disqualification when he wasn’t able to continue following an illegal knee by Silva), Okami finally completed a road to a fight for the middleweight title that has taken him over four years and twelve fights in the UFC to travel.

Okami didn’t set the world on fire, but stuck to his rather basic, yet effective game plan of using his jab, moving forward and getting takedowns when possible. The fight really came down to an uninspiring third round, where the fight appeared to be tied at a round apiece, yet Marquardt fought as if he was ahead and it was his fight to lose.

In the final stanza, Marquardt was content to back away from his busier opponent, throwing and landing occasionally but usually just staying out of trouble. He landed a takedown with about a minute and a half left, but Okami stood up within twenty seconds after not absorbing so much as a single strike from Marquardt. All three judges scored the fight for Okami, with two registering 29-28 scorecards and one returning a head-scratching 30-27 tally.

Afterward, Marquardt indicated that he did think he had won the fight, saying that he “did enough” to win. He thought that the shots he did land, along with his takedowns, were enough to win the fight even though he moved backwards and threw less strikes than his opponent. Unfortunately for him, the judges disagreed and he will have to get back in line for a title opportunity while Okami faces the winner of Silva and Vitor Belfort next year.

During a fight that was very entertaining while it lasted, Dennis Siver choked out Andre Winner late in the first round, taking a $60,000 “Submission of the Night” bonus in the process. Winner looked great early, winning several of the exchanges, but Siver’s power finally caught up with him, as a left handed counter dropped Winner, leading to the rear naked choke.

Winner was clearly stunned when he hit the mat, and he wasn’t able to effectively defend himself from Siver’s ground and pound. Winner turned his back, allowing Siver to get an opening, which he quickly took advantage of. Siver used the strategy that BJ Penn has often used to sink in the rear naked choke, trapping one of Winner’s arms with his leg while he got his hooks in. This left Winner without any real chance to defend the choke, and the rest was pretty much academic.

Peter Sobotta may be getting a pink slip soon, as he lost his third straight fight in a unanimous decision loss to former “Ultimate Fighter” winner Amir Sadollah. Sadollah took the fight with 30-27 scores on all three scorecards.

Throughout the fifteen-minute bout, Sadollah kept Sobotta uncomfortable with a variety of kicks, punches and combinations. Sadollah was able to defend a Sobotta takedown attempt late in the first round, and through the rest of the fight, Sobotta did little to put any pressure on Sadollah, which played right into his hands. Sadollah advanced to 4-2 in the UFC (and in his overall MMA career) with the victory.

Krzysztof Soszynski improved his UFC record to 5-2 with a comfortable unanimous decision win over Goran Reljic, who completely gassed by the end of the fight. All three judges gave each round to Soszynski, which is surprising because Reljic landed takedowns in the early rounds, though Soszynski threatened with submissions while Reljic did very little from the top position. Still, who expects judges to actually score fights with common sense?

The third round was a dominant one, and it often looked as if Soszynski could have finished Reljic if he had turned up the heat a little bit. Still, you can’t argue with the win, which was convincing and will help to bump Soszynski up the ladder a little bit after a disappointing loss to Stephan Bonnar in his previous fight.

Another fight that looked like it could have been finished in the third round was the bout between Duane “Bang” Ludwig and Nick Osipczak. After being out for eight months following a hard to watch ankle injury cost him his bout with Darren Elkins in March, Ludwig got through some early adversity in round one when Osipczak rocked him badly and poured on the pressure, with the fight looking to be just a moment away from being stopped a couple of times, including one point where Osipczak mounted Ludwig.

Ludwig survived, though he had a nasty cut to show for his efforts, and round two was a very close one that likely decided the outcome of the bout on the judges’ scorecards. The third round was even more decisive than the first, as Ludwig dominated from the outset and essentially treated Osipczak as a punching bag throughout. Osipczak just looked to survive as he regularly moved backward, covered up and rarely returned fire at his opponent.

On the prelims, Vladimir Matyushenko defeated Alexandre Ferreira by TKO about halfway through the first round, though there was some deliberation afterwards as to the legality of some of the elbows that Matyushenko used to help end the fight. Meanwhile, Pascal Krauss defeated Mark Scanlon by unanimous decision in a fight that earned the combatants matching $60,000 “Fight of the Night” bonuses.

Also earning a bonus on the prelims (for “Knockout of the Night”) was Karlos Vemola, who basically swarmed Seth Petruzelli from the get-go in an aggressive pursuit of an early finish in their bout. Petruzelli appeared to be weathering the early storm well, until punches and elbows from the guard caused Petruzelli to roll over, which led to the fight ending via TKO due to referee stoppage.

In other preliminary bouts, Carlos Eduardo Rocha defeated Kris McCray with a nifty kneebar in the first round of their fight, while Kyle Noke took down Rob Kimmons early and often before submitting him with a second round rear naked choke.

E-Mail Jon Hartley

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