UFC 62: Liddell-Sobral II and a TUF Rematch

Yushin Okami vs. Alan Belcher

Aug 25, 2006
OKAMI: 6’ 1”, 185 pounds, 25, Kanagawa, Japan

BACKGROUND: Yushin Okami (Pictures) is a judo stylist and Japanese wrestler who trains with Caol Uno (Pictures) and the rest of Wajyutsu Keisyukai Dojo.

He won the 2003 ADCC Japanese qualifier tournament (lost to UFC veteran Matt Lindland (Pictures) in the ADCC tournament) and is the third-ranked middleweight in the Pancrase organization. He carries an impressive 16-3-0 record in MMA.

MMA CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Yushin won the amateur Pre-PRIDE 4 tournament, beating three opponents and winning his final match over Yuuki Tsutsui by triangle choke in 1998. He would compete in PRIDE: The Best in just his second pro bout and spend time in Pancrase and in the GMC promotion (where he continues to fight today).

In 2003 Okami fought in Russia against Amar Suloev (Pictures), where he was stopped in the first round. In ’04 he fought Ryuta Sakurai (Pictures) in PRIDE Bushido 2 and won a unanimous decision.

Yushin lost a decision to UFC vet Falaniko Vitale (Pictures) before going on a six-fight win streak that included an injury win over UFC vet Nick Thompson (Pictures) and a DQ victory over UFC vet Anderson Silva (Anderson Silva' class='LinkSilver'>Pictures).

The Silva bout took place in the opening round of the Rumble on the Rock 175-pound Grand Prix and Okami advanced to face Jake Shields (Pictures) in the semifinals. Shields would take a hard-fought decision victory and eventually win the tournament, beating Carlos Condit (Pictures) by decision as well. Yushin is currently on a two-fight win streak with back-to-back stoppages of opponents in the GCM.

UFC EXPERIENCE: Debut.

WHAT HE BRINGS TO THE BOUT: Okami likes to settle his fights on the feet with strikes. At six-foot-two, he’s very tall for this division and gives him a decided reach advantage on most opponents. Yushin also has good throwing skills from his Wajyutsu and judo training. He also has good stamina as he has gone the distance in 8 of his 13 bouts. His striking also seems to have improved since he began training for the ROTR tournament.

BELCHER: 6’ 2”, 185 pounds, 22, Biloxi, Miss., known as “The Talent”

BACKGROUND: Alan Belcher (Pictures) fights as part of Team Voodoo with Kyle Bradley, John Cole (John Cole' class='LinkSilver'>Pictures), Sam Ortiz (Pictures), JC Pennington (Pictures), Kenny Stevens (Pictures) and UFC veteran Rich Clementi (Pictures). He sports a professional MMA record of 8-1.

MMA CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Belcher first fought as an amateur at 15 but as the sport’s popularity declined he took part in traditional sports. When the sport got its second wind Belcher returned to fighting.

He lost a decision to UFC veteran Marvin Eastman (Pictures) at World Extreme Fighting in 2005, but it was the only loss of his professional career. He won the Extreme Fighting League eight-man tournament in February of this year. Alan went on to beat Ron Fields (due to injury) and he is 7-0 this year including a win over Team Quest fighter Buck Meredith (Pictures).

UFC EXPERIENCE: Debut.

WHAT HE BRINGS TO THE BOUT: He certainly has the attitude. With a nickname like “The Talent” and openly questioning how some people got in the Octagon, Belcher appears to have a proper mindset for the UFC. He has stopped six opponents with strikes and has just one legitimate submission to his credit, so expect him to keep it standing. He also appears to be quite durable, having fought seven fights in the last seven months.

MY PICK: Okami. At this stage of the game it doesn’t appear as though Belcher has faced a grappler with the skills of Okami. And though Alan fought years ago in his youth, the bulk of his pro experience has taken place in the last 7 months. Okami should be able to neutralize the striking on the feet and take Belcher to the mat where he can control his opponent better.
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