Earlier this year, the UFC made news by cutting high profile welterweight Jon Fitch and company executives stated that more were to come. This past week, Japanese star Yushin Okami was cut from the roster after 7 years with the UFC. It is a long way to fall for a fighter that Dana White once touted as the best fighter to ever come out of Japan.
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In his last fight, Okami was wiped out in less than 3 minutes by ‘Jacare’ Sousa which put him in the same boat as Fitch. Fitch however, was scooped up by the new World Series of Fighting group rather quickly, while Okami is probably going to find it harder to get a job.
There are currently no big organizations running in his native Japan. Okami could conceivably stay busy by fighting in DEEP or Pancrase or SHOOTO, but his last known base salary per fight with the UFC had him earning $84,000 and those companies cannot approach that type of payout.
The obvious choice would be for Bellator to sign him up, but this would be a huge mistake on the part of Bellator. In general, adding talent is something that Bellator should be doing, and a look at their middleweight division shows they need it in a big way. They already let a dominant champion go in Hector Lombard, and current titleholder Alexander Schlemenko is at least a crowd pleaser. It isnt a given that Okami would beat Schlemenko but he would be the favorite in the fight. Schlemenko is a tough battle hardened fighter, but he would be terribly undersized against Okami.
Naturally Okami would have to come in and win a tournament to earn the shot. The season 9 middleweight tournament is going right now for Bellator, so he would have to wait until season 10. Then, who would be in that tournament with a chance of beating Okami?
Assuming he gets to the title fight, he would be forced to grapple and control Schlemenko, who is one of MMA’s deadliest strikers. And isnt that what got him cut in the first place?