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MMA MEMORIES - Japanese fighters get buried in and out of the cage
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Japanese fighters get buried in and out of the cage
Published by Zach Arnold on October 25th, 2009 in Current Events

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Yushin Okami has long been a UFC Middleweight who has drawn sympathetic heat online for continuing to get shafted to UFC undercards because of his boring fight style. In a real sport, it doesn’t matter if someone is boring but as long as they continue to win. Well, Okami put the UFC promoters to that test on several occasions.

This time around, Okami lost and lost in a big way and now UFC can wash their hands of him.

Okami drew the short end of the stick when he was booked against the crafty, tough veteran Chael Sonnen. Sonnen has spent many years in MMA as a member of Team Quest and his coming out party has been long overdue. After he got screwed over by Paulo Filho a couple of years ago in the WEC, Sonnen is now in the UFC and is making some noise. After beating Okami by decision on Saturday at UFC 104, Sonnen just let ‘er rip on Okami.

“Matt and I, we’ve been talking about this fight for literally years, seeing this coming,” Sonnen stated in a UFC official media interview. “That was my best performance, I just felt really humble, right now I’m just so I’m so truly uh happy. Proud of myself, if that doesn’t sound too weird but uh yeah I got right on him, I had to, uh, he won’t push the action but he’s always ready to fight. If you bring it to him, he’ll fight back and if I was going to be stalling, it would have been two guys stalling so, we knew we had to come forward and force him to fight and he did and uh I won but God it could have gone, he hit me some hard times, every one of them hurt. Um, but I stayed in there and won. I couldn’t make him crack, I couldn’t get him to quit, I was trying hard but he wouldn’t quit, I had to fight the whole time. We got men and women at war right now, they got real problems so me complaining about where I come out on the card is would be very arrogant but WITH THAT SAID, there was guys that I’m opening the show for that would never fight after me had that not been my dance partner so, you know they call him Yushin “Thunder” Okami, I call him Yushin “Anchor” Okami, he pulls people down whereas if you get a fight with me, if you get me on the docket, I’m going to pull you up, I’m going to get exposure and attention and people cared about the fight and he’s got the anchor, Okami’s got the opposite effect so it was it was annoying, yes.”

Talk about burying a guy six feet under! Upon reflection, does Sonnen still believe his comments about Okami are true?

“Yeah, I sure did, you know, I firmly believe if you’re going to step in and fight a guy, say whatever you want,” Sonnen explained in a Fanhouse.com post-fight interview. “If you’re not to fight a guy, don’t and I’m not going to fight him again so I’ll be a little more humble to him but there is some truth uh to the statement you know he kind of pulls you down a little bit. He has a very hard time of promoting a fight and it’s not just a fight, this is the fight business and if you can’t hype a fight uh you’re going to get relished to the undercard and that’s where we were so you know I stand by the statement and I would encourage Yushin Okami, who’s still a Top 10 fighter, you know to be able to maybe hype a fight a little bit and bring some more fan interest.”

Sonnen really felt like his showing at UFC 104 was his best ever.

“You know, I fought a gentleman named Amar Suloev a couple of years ago and for me that was my best performance that I ever had and I replaced that now with tonight, I really felt good tonight, uh, a little bit of everything out there, I had to scramble, I had to wrestler, I was on top, I was on bottom, uh, I had to land punches and kicks, uh, and more importantly is he hurt a few times, he really really rung my bell out there and I fought through it, I just stayed forward so uh you know I kinda proud of myself for that and hanging in there, that was my best performance ever.”

Does he have anything nice to say about Okami?

“Oh, he’s Top 10 for sure, I’ve fought seven guys in the Top 10 and I can assure he’s one of them, uh, you know the same way as I was saying he hit and hurt me and I walked through it, and I hit him and hurt him and he walked right back through it as well. It’s very interesting, he’s extremely hard to get down, all of the rumors about his strength are true, he’s as strong as any human I’ve ever had to compete with, and most importantly he’s very interesting on the ground, he doesn’t roll to his back and do jiu-jitsu, he drops to both knees and springs back up, that’s very uncommon. That’s not implicit of any one style that I can identify, I think that’s something that he’s just worked on on his own and it was a problem for me to keep him down.”

Where does Sonnen see his career headed after this big win?

“I’m not in here to you know to be famous or to be on TV or to make a bunch of money, I’m in here I’m after a belt that’s 12 pounds of the color of gold and that’s it and when I get that, I’ll move on and do something else in life. Uh, this is not my way of contributing to society by going and fighting in the UFC, this is something I’ve been fortunate enough to do but to answer your question, that’s all I have on my mind, I don’t just have Anderson (Silva) on my mind, whoever has the belt I’m coming after.”

Silva seems preoccupied at taking fights at the Light Heavyweight division at the moment, anyways. With Dan Henderson as a free agent, Nate Marquardt needs an opponent. Hmmm, who could fill the void of losing Henderson?

“You know, not that I would like to fight, it’d be really nice to get a night off of cutting weight and go up to 195 and get in there with Rich Franklin. Franklin and Team Quest have had problems for years that are very well documented by people like you for example so send me up to 195 and let’s bury the hatchet with Rich Franklin once and for all. Also, my teammate Dan Henderson’s got a date with Nate Marquardt on January 2nd and I keep hearing rumblings that perhaps he isn’t going to keep that appointment, uh, if he doesn’t I will.”

While Chael chastised Okami for not being a better businessman in the fight game, he says that he fights because he wants to become a champion, not because he wants to become famous.

“Yeah, I would think so, this is my first time not being on TV and uh there’s a lot bigger problems in the world than me not being on TV so I want to make sure that I don’t I’m not singing the blues here but that was my first time I don’t think it’ll happen again, that fight I just got called by my friends at home, it did make the Spike TV airing if I understood them correctly so uh I wasn’t punished too much but uh but yes, to answer your question, I think onward and upward.”

If you thought Okami had a rough night, his fellow countryman Yoshiyuki Yoshida had it far worse.

Yoshida, who has had his ugly moments in UFC (like getting destroyed and stretchered out by Josh Koscheck), got pummeled by the super-powerful “Rumble” Johnson who had a lot on his mind — and around his waist, too. Johnson was trying to make a weight cut from 220 pounds to 170 pounds. If that sounds ridiculous, it sure is. Johnson should be fighting at Middleweight, instead. At weigh-in time, Johnson showed up at 176 pounds — 6 pounds over the limit. His penalty? Losing 20% of his fight purse. Ridiculous. The fight should have never happened.

You know what happened next. Johnson, like Thiago Alves (who screwed over Matt Hughes in London and came in four pounds overweight for their fight), dismantled his opponent. While he was apologetic afterwards, Johnson seemed to have no qualms about hurting Yoshida by TKO. If you didn’t know any better, Johnson was talking as if “the man” was holding him down afterwards.

“Well he came after me so I guess he wanted to get hit. I have a knee injury getting ready for Matt Brown, you know and I got heavy, I got I wasn’t like fat but I was 220 and I did all I could to lose it and uh I think if I would have an extra hour, maybe two, I would have made to lose the extra five pounds. It was coming off and you know it’s just my fault, I should have started preparing faster. First of all, I shouldn’t have let myself get that heavy even from an injury. I’m in shape, I’m in shape, I just couldn’t lose the weight, I mean Yoshida wanted to go out all 15 minutes I could have went all 15 minutes.

I’m not happy with my performance at all. I don’t know man, I got a lot of stuff inside of me right now, you know what I mean, and it’s still boiling up I was hoping I could release some of it against Yoshida but I couldn’t.

Yeah, just a lot of personal BS and you know I’m just I mean it’s hard to be yourself in a lot of ways you know what I mean when you got someone trying to get at you and claw at you and hold you down when you’re trying to go forward in life, but you know I’m trying to overlook that and you know it is what it is, man.

I have no choice but to keep moving forward, I can’t let it slow me down but it keeps trying to slow me down but I won’t let it break me, you know what I mean, I ain’t no punk, I ain’t going to let nobody can break me. Nobody can break me but me, you know and I just can’t wait for my next fight. I promise you it will be better than this, probably even more brutal knockout, each fight I said I’m going to knock somebody out but I don’t really anticipate the knockout, if I see it I go for it.”

The personal BS, BTW, might have something to do with the allegations of an incident with an ex-girlfriend of his. Johnson may have some personal issues to deal with, but he showed no professionalism in terms of his behavior for the fight against Yoshida. He showed the Japanese a lack of respect.

There seems to be a lot of that going around lately in the fight game.


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