Yushin Okami (left): Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
Everyone answers to somebody, so we, the staff at Sherdog.com, have decided to defer to our readers.
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This week, readers weigh in on all things UFC 122: how Yushin Okami’s decision to train with Chael Sonnen and Team Quest will impact his bout with Nate Marquardt; what the UFC’s return to Germany portends for the future of MMA in the country; which debuting talents on the card might shine; who is in danger of being cut and whether UFC 122’s entertainment value might surprise.
I can't figure out why Yushin Okami would want to go train at Team Quest for his fight with Nate Marquardt. I know Okami has trained there before and has looked better since he lost to Chael Sonnen and decided to train with him. I know Sonnen beat Marquardt, too. But, we saw the limitations of what you can learn at Team Quest in Sonnen's fight with Anderson Silva. Is Okami really only lacking the wrestling? I'm just not sure preparing in Oregon will give him the kind of edge he needs to beat Marquardt.
-- David from Clovis
Mike Whitman, news editor: You pose an interesting query, but I think you're oversimplifying the Sonnen-Silva matchup. To say that the limitations of what a fighter could learn at Team Quest hinges completely on a single performance by a single fighter is a bit of a stretch.
Additionally, look at the road Sonnen took to reach Silva and his performance against the champ. After his submission loss to Demian Maia, Chael ran through Dan Miller, Yushin Okami and Nate Marquardt by using his superior wrestling to his advantage. He did the same thing against Silva and was pounding the champ before Silva proved why he's the best in the world and slapped on that triangle. Sonnen's submission defense has always been suspect, but that cannot and should not be applied to every fighter he trains with in Oregon.
After being dominated by Sonnen last year, Okami began training with him at Team Quest. In his first performance after a trip to Oregon, his hands looked phenomenal and he displayed probably the best stand-up of his career against Lucio Linhares. In his next fight, he took on a wrestler comparable to Sonnen in former NCAA national champ Mark Munoz. It was clear that the Okami who fought Sonnen was long gone, replaced instead by a machine programmed to shuck off takedowns.
What is Okami's bread and butter? Okami loves to clinch, hit an outside leg trip, crawl on top and start to wail on his man. His two greatest assets, in my opinion, are his ground-and-pound and his physical strength. What better way to train than to improve the fringe areas of your game -- double-legs, takedown defense, clinch boxing, footwork -- in order to maximize your chances of taking the fight to where you are the strongest?
Look at what “Thunder” did against Rich Franklin once he finally got that fight to the floor. I heard Sonnen talk firsthand at Team Quest about how good Okami's ground game was. Thanks to Sonnen, we've seen the biggest weakness in Marquardt's game: his offensive guard. If Okami is to beat Nate, it seems like following the blueprint that Sonnen laid out would be a smart way to go.
Okami's boxing and footwork have been drastically improved by Team Quest boxing coach Clayton Hires, and they are only getting better. Couple that with one-on-one wrestling instruction from Olympic silver medalist Matt Lindland and training partner Sonnen, and I think that Team Quest is a fine place for Okami to be training for the biggest fight of his career.