This weekend, the UFC brings us UFC on FUEL TV 8 from Tokyo, Japan with a card headlined by Wanderlei Silva taking on Brian Stann and featuring a lot of Japanese talent and fighters known to the Japanese audiences. With the fight two days away, the sports books have Japanese top contender Yushin Okami as a nearly 2 to 1 underdog over stud Judoka Hector Lombard. There may be some value in looking at the underdog, and it may be worth watching to see if Lombard pulls in more support and gets the line wider. If it gets to be more than 2 to 1 it would be wrong to not at least consider a big bet on Okami.
UFC President Dana White called Okami the best fighter to ever come out of Japan. Though that may be an exaggeration, Okami is very good and he has only lost to the top tier guys in the UFC since his arrival. The knock on Okami is that he can be boring and methodical, but he is a winner.
In this particular match up, some of Okami’s physical tools may come into play as well, as he will enjoy a big height advantage (Okami is 6’2, while Lombard stands at a stocky 5’9) as well as a reach advantage. Okami is a good striker, and his takedown defense is also exceptional. If he can avoid Lombard’s takedowns and turn it into a boxing match, Okami will have a very good shot at winning the decision.
I have said it before, Lombard, with his compact stature and heavy musculature may belong in the weight class of welterweight, while Okami is a naturally big Middleweight. Against Tim Boetsch, Lombard seemed to tire as the fight progressed, and he lacked explosion. Okami is going to find Lombard most dangerous in the opening rounds.
Lombard has competed in Japan before, and 2 of his career losses come in the Land of the Rising Sun, while Okami will be at home enjoying the advantages.
Both are Judoka, so this will make for an interesting battle in the clinches. The pedigree in Judo that Lombard has is not matched by Okami, but Okami is probably solid enough to nullify and neutralize some of what Lombard does, especially with his natural length and strength. This is a very live underdog, hopefully the line goes higher for Okami.