Belfort-Okami Title Eliminator Official for UFC 122

By Brian Knapp and Terry Goodlad Sep 20, 2010
In what Zuffa LLC hails as a middleweight title eliminator, former light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort will meet the world-ranked Yushin Okami in the UFC 122 headliner on Nov. 13 at the Konig Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen, Germany. The promotion on Monday made the matchup official.

With number one contender Chael Sonnen facing a suspension after testing positive for suspected steroid use, the Belfort-Okami winner figures to move to the forefront of potential suitors for current UFC middleweight king Anderson Silva.

Belfort will carry a five-fight winning streak into the match. He underwent shoulder surgery in February and has not competed since September 2009, when he put away former middleweight champion Rich Franklin at UFC 103. The 33-year-old Brazilian holds other notable victories against one-time Pride Fighting Championships middleweight titleholder Wanderlei Silva, former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Bobby Southworth and 2000 Olympic silver medalist Matt Lindland. A black belt in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Belfort, revered for his devastating hand speed, has delivered 13 of his 19 career wins by knockout or technical knockout.

“It’s a joy to go to other parts of the world and fight for fans there,” Belfort said in a release. “I’m here to regain my legacy as one of the best fighters in the world. I’ve accomplished so many things in my career, but I’m always happy to be in the gym and working on getting better.”

Okami owns an impressive 9-2 mark inside the UFC and has rattled off consecutive wins since his unanimous decision defeat to Sonnen at UFC 104 in October. The 29-year-old Japanese standout has not competed since he earned a split nod over Mark Munoz at UFC Live 2 in August. Victories against American Kickboxing Academy stalwart Mike Swick, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 semi-finalist Kalib Starnes, Duke Roufus protégé Alan Belcher and 2003 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships absolute division winner Dean Lister anchor Okami’s resume. In 30 professional appearances, he has been finished only once.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to fight a great like Vitor in the main event of a big card,” Okami said. “Vitor is still kind of my idol, so I’m very excited. He will bring out the very best in me. Belfort is a great fighter, but I feel I have certain advantages I can use in the fight. I will shock MMA fans around the world with my performance.”

UFC 122: Belfort vs. Okami
Saturday, Nov. 13
Konig Pilsener Arena
Oberhausen, Germany

Vitor Belfort vs. Yushin Okami
* Amir Sadollah vs. Peter Sobotta
* Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Jason Brilz
* Dennis Siver vs. Andre Winner
* Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Goran Reljic
* Karlos Vemola vs. Seth Petruzelli
* Alessio Sakara vs. Jorge Rivera
* Rob Kimmons vs. Kyle Noke
* Kris McCray vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha
* Pascal Krauss vs. Kenny Robertson
* Duane Ludwig vs. Nick Osipczak

* Not Official
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