When he hit the Octagon at the MGM Grand, however, Belcher instead faced the stifling grappling of Yushin Okami, who stepped in for Weidman when he went down to injury.
The fight marked a rematch some six years in the making.
Belcher has become a much different fighter during that time. Okami has not. But that’s because what Okami does works for him.
He’s a large, smothering middleweight, and he used his size and style to full effect on Saturday night in the rematch with Belcher.
Try as Belcher might, he could do little to keep Okami off of him.
At every turn, Okami took Belcher to the mat and smothered him.
Even when Belcher was able to gain top position on the way down, Okami quickly reversed him and continued his smothering, ground and pound attack.
The fight played out that way for all three rounds, the judges handing Okami a unanimous decision.
After losing back-to-back bouts to middleweight champ Anderson Silva and Tim Boetsch, Okami now has two consecutive victories in his pocket on the road back to title contention.