Yushin Okami file photo: Sherdog.com
The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in MMA, recapping and putting into context the week's top story, important news and notable quotes.
Yushin Okami -- the last man to defeat Anderson Silva, albeit by disqualification -- may have locked in another crack at the pound-for-pound king. However, he did not spark fervor for the bout in becoming number one middleweight contender in the UFC 122 main event on Nov. 11 in Oberhausen, Germany.
Okami outpointed Nate Marquardt to take a unanimous decision and was deemed next in line for the winner of the Feb. 5 title fight between Silva and Vitor Belfort. A close first round went to Okami on all three judges’ scorecards, while Marquradt took the second on two of three cards and Okami took the third. Okami, who trained with Chael Sonnen at Team Quest in Oregon for the fight, used a strong jab and controlled the center of the cage to demonstrate advantage, though he did not offer anything that greatly threatened Marquardt. Both bloodied the other, Okami on the ear and Marquardt underneath the eye. Okami edged Marqaurdt in FightMetric’s statistical evaluation of the bout by landing more overall strikes and more significant strikes.
Post-fight headlines revolved less around the tactical fight and more around UFC President Dana White’s comments on Marquardt’s timidity. White said Marquardt “choked” and blamed his corner, headed by trainers Greg Jackson and Trevor Wittman, for assuring Marquardt he was winning the fight going into the third. Marquardt did a lot of countering and striking while backing up in the fight. White painted the entire Jackson stable of fighters as too careful and reliant on judges’ decisions. White called the main event “very disappointing.”
Okami, who has stood at the doorstep of title contention throughout most of his four years in the UFC, defeated Silva via disqualification in 2006 after an illegal upkick to Okami’s head prompted a disqualification. Bad blood still exists over the fight, providing a solid backdrop for a future UFC promotion if Silva defeats Belfort. Okami was originally slated to face at Belfort at UFC 122, but “The Phenom” was tapped to challenge Silva when Chael Sonnen was suspended for failing a post-fight drug screening after his loss to the champion on Aug. 7.
The win elevated Okami from No. 6 to No. 3 in Sherdog.com’s 185-pound rankings.
Other UFC 122 notes of interest:
• The promotion’s second event in Germany, UFC 122 saw a falloff from a business perspective compared to UFC 99 in June 2009 in Cologne. UFC 122 drew 8,421 fans to the Konig Pilsener Arena for an estimated $600,000 gate, down significantly from an attendance of 12,800 and $1.3 million gate for UFC 99. White joked in a video blog about a sparse attendance of around 40 at a Q&A session held for fans on fight week.
• Despite the reception, UFC officials said they are determined to continue promoting in Germany, largely to combat a media stigma that spurned sensationalistic headlines and the promotion’s ban from German television. The commitment to continue running in Germany and highlighting German fighters is a hint of how the UFC may counteract backlash it may face in other parts of the world as it enters new international markets in 2011.
• While UFC 122 did not air on television in Germany, it was well-watched in the United States, where it aired via tape delay on Spike TV. The three-hour broadcast scored a 1.4 rating for an average of 2.2 million viewers, a solid jump from the 1.9 million drawn for UFC 120 on Oct. 19 and 1.6 million for UFC Fight Night 22 on Sept. 15, headlined by Marquardt vs. Rousimar Palhares. The Sept. 15 show was the lowest-rated UFC live event ever on Spike TV. UFC 122 aired live in Canada and in the United Kingdom.
• The UFC 122 co-main event -- Jorge Rivera vs. Alessio Sakara -- was pulled at the last minute due to a Sakara illness. Rivera told the Sherdog Radio Nework’s “Beatdown” program that he was informed of the cancellation after his hands had already been wrapped for the fight. Rivera and Sakara were paid, with Rivera getting his show money and win bonus, White told MMAJunkie.com. Rivera hinted at a fight with Michael Bisping as his next step. A bout between Duane Ludwig and Nick Ozipczak was bumped to the main card; Ludwig took a split decision verdict.
• Also picking up wins at UFC 122 were Dennis Siver (round-one rear-naked choke submission over Andre Winner), Amir Sadollah (unanimous decision over Peter Sobotta), Krzysztof Soszynski (unanimous decision over Goran Reljic), Vladimir Matyushenko (TKO over Alexandre Ferreira), Pascal Krauss (unanimous decision over Mark Scanlon), Kyle Noke (round-two rear-naked choke submission over Rob Kimmons), Karlos Vemola (first-round TKO over Seth Petruzelli), and Carlos Eduardo Rocha (round-one kneebar submission over Kris McCray).
• $60,000 performance bonuses went to Krauss and Scanlon for “Fight of the Night,” Vemola for “Knockout of the Night” and Siver “Submission of the Night.”
• Ludwig sustained a broken hand in the first round against Ozipczak that required surgery. The fight was Ludwig’s first since suffering a gruesome ankle break during a match against Darren Elkins in March.
• Reljic was released from the UFC after his third straight loss, FiveOuncesOfPain.com reported.