Article

Yushin Okami – His Time Has Come

“He has power and he does not have any weak points,” Okami says of Marquardt. “I recognize that he is a really great fighter.”
Known for his calm and cool demeanor, Yushin Okami exudes confidence in the Octagon. It wasn’t always that way though. Just flash back to his pro debut against Kyosuke Sasaki a little over eight years ago, and the man will tell you himself that he barely resembled a man one win away from a world title shot.

“At that time, I felt nervous,” he said. “Therefore, I do not remember anything.”

That’s what the prospect of facing another man in sanctioned hand to hand combat can do to you. It can make you forget everything – your training, your techniques, even your name. The funny thing is, it’s natural, and the ones who are able to control those emotions are the ones who go on to big things in this toughest of sports.

Okami won that night in September of 2002, and in the ensuing years he’s added 25 wins to his pro record and just five losses. On Saturday, he faces Nate Marquardt in the main event of UFC 122 in Oberhausen, Germany, and with a victory, he will be looking at a championship fight in 2011.

It’s been a long road for Okami since his days growing up in Kanagawa, Japan. A self-described “gentle child,” the future middleweight contender says that he “grew up normally. It was happy every day.” Skilled in track and field during his school years, Okami eventually gravitated to combat sports, and by 2001, the 20-year old was entrenched in the fight game and a year away from his pro debut.

From there, it’s been a whirlwind of fighting, traveling, and getting better, with Okami’s ultimate goal to become the first Japanese fighter to win a UFC title. Yuki Kondo, Kenichi Yamamoto, Hayato “Mach” Sakurai, and Caol Uno have all fallen short before, prompting the question for Okami as to why his countrymen have never been able to secure the belt in the Octagon.

“I think that not being accustomed to an overseas environment is one of the causes,” he said. “That experience helps in the UFC because I was fighting a lot in foreign countries.”

He’s not kidding. In addition to his fights at home, Okami’s fighting passport has been stamped in Russia, South Korea, Northern Ireland, the United States, and now Germany. But perhaps his most memorable international bout came in 2006 when he traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii to face future UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva. In a well documented bout, Okami defeated Silva via disqualification when ‘The Spider’ landed an illegal up kick that rendered the Japanese fighter unable to continue. It was Silva’s last loss, and if Okami has his choice, should he beat Marquardt, he wants Silva to emerge victorious in his upcoming bout with Vitor Belfort to set up a score settling rematch.

“I want to fight with Silva, who is the champion,” he says, getting right to the point. It’s this quiet confidence that has taken him through his 11 fight UFC career, one that has seen him build a stellar 9-2 record, with the only losses coming to Rich Franklin and Chael Sonnen. It’s a resume to be proud of, but the loss to Sonnen at UFC 104 in October 2009 still leaves a bitter taste in his mouth.

“I was embarrassed and disappointed with myself,” he said, showing the competitor inside. Yet shortly after the bout, he figured if you can’t beat ‘em, learn from ‘em, and soon he was in Oregon training with Sonnen and Team Quest.

“Team Quest offered the highest training environment to me that exists,” said Okami. “I wish to express my gratitude to them. Communication was the only problem for me because my English language skill is still low.”

But training with a former opponent?

“No problem.”

Since his first stint in Portland (he has since returned to work there for the Marquardt bout), Okami delivered one of his career-best performances in stopping Lucio Linhares in March, and then he scored a split decision win over Mark Munoz in August that brings him now to Germany and a matchup with Nate “The Great.” Okami, as usual, is very respectful of his foe.

“He has power and he does not have any weak points,” he said of Marquardt. “I recognize that he is a really great fighter.”

And it takes a great fighter to beat a great fighter. So if Okami is going to make history for Japan by winning a UFC title, he will have to prove himself the hard way as he removes all obstacles in his way. The first one is Marquardt, then it’s off to Silva or Belfort. It’s a daunting stretch to say the least, but Okami’s ready for it. It’s probably why when you ask him what fight fans should expect from him in the future, he just has a one word answer to the question.

“Champion.”

Watch Past Fights

토요일, 10월 1
11PM/8PM
ETPT
Portland, Oregon

미디어

최근
UFC 205 기자 회견, 장소 뉴욕시 메디슨 스퀘어 가든. 9월 26일 동부 오후 6시/서부 오후 3시.
2016. 9. 27
프로 무대 활동을 통해 일격필살의 펀치력을 선보인 존 도슨은 UFN 포틀랜드 대회 메인이벤트에서 다시 한번 KO를 노리낟. 이번 상대는 존 리네커.
2016. 9. 27
Alex "Cowboy" Oliveira emplacou o seu primeiro nocaute no UFC ao derrotar Piotr Hallman em novembro de 2015, no UFC São Paulo. O brasileiro volta ao octógono no próximo sábado (1) para enfrentar Will Brooks na 2ª luta mais importante do UFC Portland.
2016. 9. 27
UFC Minute 리사 포일스가 전하는 UFC 205 대회 기자회견 라이브 시청 방법. 기자회견은 금일 뉴욕시에서 열린다.
2016. 9. 27