The UFC’s return to the Land of the Rising Sun will be a stormy one, as promotion officials recently announced that Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard will do battle in a pivotal middleweight showdown March 3 at UFC on Fuel TV 8.
In addition to the clash between “Thunder” and “Lightning,” the event will also see former Pride Fighting Championships titlist Wanderlei Silva lock horns with onetime WEC ruler Brian Stann in a light heavyweight headliner at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Due to the time difference, American fans can watch the event live on March 2, with the Fuel TV-broadcast main card immediately following the prelims on Facebook.
Three years younger than his upcoming foe, 31-year-old Okami has consistently performed as on the UFC’s top middleweights since joining the promotion in 2006. After winning 10 of his first 12 fights under the UFC banner, the Japanese talent challenged longtime 185-pound champion Anderson Silva last year, suffering a second-round technical knockout to “The Spider” at UFC 134. Though a stunning upset loss to Tim Boetsch would follow, Okami rebounded with victories in his last two outings, most recently taking a clear-cut unanimous verdict from Alan Belcher last month at UFC 155.
Following a lackluster Octagon debut against Boetsch this summer, Lombard impressed in his sophomore promotional effort on Dec. 15, knocking out Rousimar Palhares with a furious flurry at UFC on FX 6. Prior to his split decision setback against Boetsch, the former Bellator Fighting Championships belt holder had not lost since 2006, when he was outpointed by Gegard Mousasi in the Pride Fighting Championships ring. The hard-hitting southpaw owns 18 of his 32 victories via form of knockout and has never been finished in more than eight years as a pro.