UFC Fight Night 28 Notebook: Thunder Struck

By Brian Knapp Sep 4, 2013
Yushin “Thunder” Okami has never been submitted. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

Yushin Okami has become a significant factor in determining which way the gate swings in the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight division.

Okami will put his modest three-fight winning streak on the line when he scraps with former Strikeforce champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in the UFC Fight Night 28 “Teixeira vs. Bader” co-main event on Wednesday at the Jornalista Felipe Drumond Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Souza enters the cage on the verge of title contention at 185 pounds, a formidable obstacle blocking his path.

A judo black belt, Okami has compiled a 13-4 mark since arriving in the Octagon in August 2006, those 13 victories tying him with Rashad Evans, Diego Sanchez and Gleison Tibau for 12th on the UFC’s all-time list. The 32-year-old Japanese middleweight last appeared at UFC on Fuel TV 8 in March, when he eked out a split decision over former Bellator MMA champion Hector Lombard at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Wins over the American Kickboxing Academy’s Mike Swick, Roufusport representative Alan Belcher, former middleweight King of Pancrase Nate Marquardt and Reign MMA’s Mark Munoz anchor Okami’s resume.

Souza made his promotional debut at UFC on FX 8 in May, when he submitted “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 11 alum Chris Camozzi with a first-round arm-triangle choke at the Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil. A former Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion and gold medalist at the 2005 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission World Championships, “Jacare” has secured 14 of his 18 victories by submission. The 33-year-old X-Gym export held the Strikeforce middleweight crown for more than a year, from Aug. 21, 2010 until Sept. 10, 2011.

Okami knows he faces a serious challenge.

“He has a lot of accomplishments and a great background in Brazilian jiu-jitsu,” he said during his pre-fight interview with UFC.com. “Everyone thinks highly of ‘Jacare,’ and so do I.”

Alpha Male Appetite

Photo: D. Mandel/Sherdog.com

Benavidez is 5-1 in the UFC.
Joseph Benavidez undoubtedly wants another go at UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, but for now, he has fixed his sights on the world-ranked Jussier da Silva.

Team Alpha Male’s Benavidez will head into battle against “Formiga” on the strength of back-to-back victories over Ian McCall and Darren Uyenoyama. A win over the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt could catapult Benavidez into a rematch with Johnson, the man to whom he dropped a split verdict a little more than a year ago.

While he was once regarded as the top 125-pound fighter in the sport, the hype surrounding da Silva has cooled somewhat after losses to McCall and “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 winner John Dodson. He last appeared at UFC on FX 8 in May, when he earned a unanimous decision over Chris Cariaso. An extraordinary scrambler and grappler, “Formiga” has secured seven of his 15 victories by submission.

“It’s just another opponent, another chance for me to go out there and test my skills,” Benavidez told Sherdog.com. “I think it’s a great matchup for me with his style, the jiu-jitsu style. He’s definitely a worthy challenge. If you look at his two losses, they’re to top guys.”

This & That

UFC Fight Night 28 “Teixeira vs. Bader” will be the 246th event in Ultimate Fighting Championship history ... The Jornalista Felipe Drumond Stadium opened in 1980 and can seat up to 25,000 fans, making it the largest indoor sports arena in Brazil ... Piotr Hallmann hails from Gdynia, Poland, more than 6,300 miles from the venue ... When Brazilian light heavyweight contender Glover Teixeira climbs into the cage for his main event showdown with Ryan Bader, a staggering 3,053 days will have come and gone since his last defeat ... No fighter on the UFC Fight Night 28 lineup has more professional bouts under his belt than Keith Wisniewski, who has fought 43 times since debuting in April 1998 ... Russian newcomer Ali Bagautinov is a two-time world champion in combat sambo ... Rafael Natal’s nickname, “Sapo,” means “frog” in Portuguese ... All 13 of Edimilson Souza’s victories and all three of his losses have ended via knockout, technical knockout or submission ... Elias Silverio (8-0) is one of 22 undefeated fighters currently signed to the UFC, along with Khabib Nurmagomedov (20-0), Benjamin Brinsa (13-0), Jimi Manuwa (13-0), Daniel Cormier (12-0), Myles Jury (12-0), Gunnar Nelson (11-0-1), Yan Cabral (10-0), Dustin Kimura (10-0), Allan Patrick (10-0), Chris Weidman (10-0), Ryan LaFlare (8-0), Kelvin Gastelum (8-0), Cat Zingano (8-0), Sara McMann (7-0), Ronda Rousey (7-0), Jon Tuck (7-0), Garrett Whiteley (7-0), Luke Barnatt (6-0), Robert Drysdale (6-0), James Vick (5-0) and Brian Houston (4-0) ... “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 alum Tor Troeng holds a Master’s degree in engineering physics from Umea University in Sweden ... Born on March 3, 1991, Brazilian welterweight Yrui Villefort is the sixth youngest fighter on the UFC roster.


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