UFC president Dana White not only sent mild shock waves throughout the MMA world with Friday’s unexpected release of former middleweight top contender Yushin Okami (pictured), but he also sent a stern message to nearly ever fighter on his roster – the UFC is looking to trim the fat, so you better perform.
Oh, and doing so in exciting fashion will certainly help your cause.
“He’s been with us forever,” White told Yahoo! Sports. “He was always a tough guy and was right up there, but it’s almost like he’d become a gatekeeper. I like Okami, and you’ve heard me say this many times, that a win over Yushin Okami meant something.
“But he was never able to get over the hump and win one of those [significant] fights. We have a lot of guys coming in and I’ve been saying this all year: We have a full roster and there are guys who deserve opportunities. When you bring guys in, someone has to go. That’s why these fights are so meaningful.”
What White is saying is Okami’s firing was a numbers game, as in it makes complete sense to give someone who is 32 years old and will never don a UFC title the heave-ho. In addition, Okami’s last reported salary was a hefty (in UFC standards) $84,000, with half of his paycheck coming via win bonus, for his unanimous decision victory over Alan Belcher at UFC 155.
Speaking of decisions, Okami owns an impressive 29-8 professional record, but 18 of his fights (14 wins, 4 losses) were decided the by judges sitting cageside. Therefore, there aren’t many highlight reel clips the UFC can use to promote “Thunder” in their promos.
Okami had his three-fight winning streak viciously snapped by former Strikeforce champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in his last outing. However, he has won six of his past nine scraps, with his blemishes during that run coming against then-champ Anderson Silva, Tim Boetsch (a bout Okami had well under control until Boetsch staged a late rally) and Souza.
His most notable wins inside the Octagon have come against Alan Belcher (twice), Mike Swick, Evan Tanner, Mark Munoz, Nate Marquardt and Hector Lombard.
Okami is currently ranked #6 on the UFC Middleweight Fighter Rankings.