Yushin Okami: Jeff Sherwood | Sherdog.com
An event largely devoid of star power, UFC 122 “Marquardt vs. Okami” will feature what has been hailed as a middleweight title eliminator between former King of Pancrase Nate Marquardt and Japanese standout Yushin Okami on Saturday at the Konig Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen, Germany.
The Marquardt-Okami showdown will place the winner right in the thick of title hunt at 185 pounds, as the two men jockey for respective rematches with champion Anderson Silva.
Sherdog.com recently caught up with dozens of professional trainers and fighters to gauge their opinions on the fight:
Carlos Barreto: I see little chance of victory for Okami. Marquardt is a stronger fighter and a more complete fighter. Marquardt wins by TKO.
Shamar Bailey: I think Marquardt has Okami outmatched in every aspect of the fight. Although Okami is tough and durable, I see Marquardt finishing this fight before the end of the third round in any way he chooses to do so.
Michael Bisping: I’m actually expecting Okami to pull this off. It’s a great fight between two very tough, well-rounded guys. But based on the way Chael Sonnen controlled Marquardt in their bout, I think Okami has a chance to use a similar strategy and take the win. I think Okami will take him down, hold him there, beat him up a little and basically do more damage. I think Nate is much better off making this a striking match, mixing in his kicks and punches and avoiding the ground altogether if he can. Okami may have been a little unlucky not to have gotten a title shot yet, but now his destiny is in his own hands, and I think we’ll see the best of him at UFC 122.
Rafael Cordeiro: By the rhythm of good fights that Nate has been doing, I think he wins. The path that I believe should lead him to victory should be the short distance exploiting his boxing.
Tom Vaughn: Both of these guys are quality fighters, but this match seems like a dud. Okami has great takedown defense, but I think he lacks the offensive wrestling skills to get this to the ground. That said, it will be a fight contested mostly on the feet, where Okami will peck at Marquardt with one- and two-shot combos, while Marquardt will answer back with power punches and will be the aggressor. Obligatory pummeling against the fence that goes nowhere. Repeat for three rounds. If the fight ends, it’s Marquardt by KO or TKO, but predictions are no fun when you do the “If” thing. Marquardt by unanimous decision.
Nam Phan: I think Marquardt should be able get the knockout over Okami. I am really rooting for my Asian brother to win, because if Okami loses, he might have to chop off one of his fingers. There’s no need for that.
Wanderlei Silva: I think this is going to be a good fight between Marquardt and Okami. Okami is very strong and tough on the ground. Marquardt’s good on the ground, too, but I think Marquardt is a more complete fighter. He has good hands, and I think this is going to be the difference.
Matt Lindland: This is going to be a long, painful evening for Mr. Marquardt. I pick Okami to win this fight by decision; it might even be another split decision, like the last fight he dominated, if the judges try and swindle another decision. Yushin is bigger, stronger and faster. Yes, Nathan is great, he hits hard and knocks guys out, but it’s hard to knock guys out when you are laying on your back with a big, strong Takeshi dropping elbows on your head.
Sam Hoger: Nasty Nate will bring the hate. Okami will crash and burn, unless the little angel is on his shoulder and says, “It is your turn.” Okami knows the fate which comes, in the near future he can hear the beating drums. Which say this was not a good fight for Okami to pick, because it will not be enough just to move and stick.
Ricardo Liborio: Great matchup. I see Nate winning, using his ground-and-pound.
Kendall Grove: I think, honestly, Marquardt is the top of the food chain right now. He’s the one putting it together; he’s on a roll. Okami’s record speaks for itself, though. He’s one of the top guys, and he wants that title shot bad. I just think Marquardt is so well-rounded; he can do it all so well. Plus, Okami is a big guy, but Marquardt is kinda the Brock [Lesnar] or [Shane] Carwin of 185 pounds. He’s a big, big put together dude. The thing is, at this level and with a title shot on the line, both of them have to go after it. If you are going to throw a kick, throw it as hard as you can; don’t hesitate. If you are going to go for an armbar, go for it; don’t worry about getting swept. And I think Nate has been in these situations before and will keep his head better. It will be tough. I think Nate will finish it in the third round.
Robin Black: This is one of the very best fights in a long while, with one of the weakest storylines. My prediction is that this whole card will be full of totally wicked awesome fights but won’t be watched by as many casual fans as most cards. Too bad for them. Big night for real fight fans. Marquardt “KO of the Night,” round two or three.
Stephane Vigneault: Marquardt is my man, but Okami is a very underrated fighter. I see Nate dominating all the rounds because I think he is superior everywhere. Maybe only at wrestling Okami is a little better, but, definitely, the striking and [Brazilian jiu-jitsu] and conditioning are on the side of Nate. Marquardt wins via unanimous decision.
Gabe Ruediger: This one was difficult. Both fighters are very good and well-rounded. I went to the Sherdog database in hopes that they might have fought the same people in Pancrase, but that was a dead end. So, I had to look at their overall record, and, with that, I’m going Marquardt by decision. How did I come up with that by looking at their records? No idea, but that’s what I’m going with.
Ron Foster: This is a very tough fight to call. Okami will look to keep the pace slow by pushing Nate against the cage [and] working for the takedown. Okami will get Nate to the ground early but will do little to no damage. [In the] second and third [rounds], Nate will avoid being taken down and should be able to outstrike Okami on the feet. After landing some big shots, Nate may get a takedown of his own just to keep Okami guessing. Close fight, but I think Nate has too many weapons for Okami. Marquardt by unanimous decision.
Thales Leites: Nate wins by decision.
Keith Berry: Yushin impressed me when he fought Mark Munoz, so I’m taking Yushin by quick and painful rear-naked choke. But I wouldn’t put any money on this fight; it’s very evenly matched.
Roli Delgado: What a good fight. I have a very tough time calling this fight. Nate is for sure one of the most well-rounded fighters in the UFC, but Okami is a beast, as well, and is very measured. However, I believe Nate will win by decision. Definitely a war of attrition ahead for these guys.
Eduardo Dantas: Nate wins by knockout in second round.
Bobby Southworth: This is a really tough fight to call. Both guys are great fighters, yet both have a tendency to underperform in big fights. Since this a for the number one contender spot, whoever takes this is the one who shows up mentally prepared to take home the “W.”
Michael Guymon: Nate has more ways to win this fight and has a more complete striking game. Nate by TKO in the second round.
Alessio Sakara: I usually do not make picks for fights because, as you know, in MMA anything can happen at the drop of a hat. For the main event of 122, it is especially hard to make a call of who is going to get the victory. Both fighters are very well-rounded, and both have an excellent amount of experience inside the Octagon. If I had to call this one, I would say maybe Marquardt will pull this one off. He seems to be focused after his loss to [Chael] Sonnen, and he has a lot of momentum at this moment. His training camp is very strong, regularly training with Rashad Evans, Shane Carwin, [Jon] “Bones” Jones and the rest of Team Greg Jackson. I also think that Okami is very well-prepared and has also been looking great in his last performances. For this reason, to call this particular fight is very hard, but I think maybe Nate will pull out the “W.”
Jason Dent: Okami is tough but not as good of a finisher as Marquardt. I think Marquardt is the more well-rounded fighter, and it’s gonna show. I say Nate wins by TKO late [in] round one.