Yushin Okami’s unanimous decision victory over Nate Marquardt at UFC 122 wasn’t the most aesthetically appealing fight in MMA history, but it earned “Thunder” next dibs at the middleweight crown nonetheless.
Although Okami was nearly a 2-to-1 underdog against “Nate the Great,” he was the one pushing the action for the much of their 15-minute affair. Time and again, the underrated Japanese fighter took the center of the Octagon and forced Marquardt to exchange with his back close to the cage – limiting his reach and explosiveness.
Okami won most of the stand-up exchanges, and showed off his much improved wrestling game en route to bumping his record to an unsung 26-5.
“Nate is a great fighter. I felt I deserved it and I’m ready to fight for the championship,” he stated after collecting his third consecutive win. “I want to fight [Anderson Silva] for the championship and I want to become the middleweight champion.”
The 29-year-old will only be able to control one of those two pieces, as “The Spider” will put his title on the line against Vitor Belfort at UFC 126 on February 5th. Okami-san will then face the winner, a title opportunity that’s been nearly five years in the making.
He was penciled in for a UFC 90 title fight against Silva back in January 2006. Unfortunately, he was bit by the injury bug and was forced to withdraw with a broken hand.
Okami was the last man to hang a loss on the planet’s baddest 185-pounder. He took a controversial DQ win at “Rumble on the Rock 8″ back in January 2006 when Silva landed an illegal kick to the grill.
He has never crossed paths with Belfort.