UFC Releases Its No.6 Ranked Middleweight, Yushin Okami

September 27, 2013
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Yushin Okami vs Alan Belcher UFC 155The Ultimate Fighting Championship has released its No. 6 ranked middleweight, Yushin Okami.

UFC officials confirmed Okami’s release to MMAWeekly.com on Friday.

The Japanese veteran has been a staple of the promotion’s 185-pound division since 2006, amassing a record of 13-5 in the Octagon. His overall MMA record currently stands at 29-8.

In a conversation on Twitter, UFC president Dana White responded to questions about why Okami was cut loose by saying, “our roster is packed.”

White added that if Okami wins a few fights elsewhere, there is “always” room for him to come back to the UFC.

Okami is coming off of a first-round loss to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza via TKO stoppage on the Sept. 4 fight card in Brazil. That loss ended a three-fight winning streak over the likes of Buddy Roberts, Alan Belcher, and Hector Lombard.

He is one of only five men to hold a victory over former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, albeit due to Silva being disqualified for an illegal up-kick during their Rumble on the Rock 8 bout in early 2006.

Okami has been a title contender almost from the day he set foot in the Octagon. He finally got a crack at the belt and another shot at Silva at UFC 134 in August of 2011 in Brazil. Silva took Okami out by way of TKO stoppage in the second round.

It’s unclear what Okami’s next step will be, but at 32 years of age, he could continue fighting elsewhere.

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  • Big Tuna

    Okami lacks explosiveness

    • Dragon Kid

      Since getting dropped by Silva and Boetsch, he’s shown a lot of boringness in his fights

  • Stefano ‘Zwonimir’ Sega Nogaro

    horrible decision, this is the UFE line …

    btw is a HUGE opportunity for Khalidov, if he fights and finish Okami no doubts he’s top 5 material at least.

  • This is similar to fitch. His price tag is too high and he’s not exactly a fan favorite to watch.

    • Sir_Roy

      Pretty much this.

      Certain fighters need to acknowledge that their net worth is determined by far more deciding factors than “rankings” alone and be willing to negotiate accordingly should they wish to remain in the big leagues.

      • canada mike eh!

        yeah its dana s way or the highway

    • KevStinx

      Boils down to business, f*** the fans and the fighter.

      Okami is not much of an asset to the UFC, he is too expensive with little fan base as said by Bryam. It is exactly the same scenario.

      Oh wait Okami is Japanese, so its a little different, or so Dana would think.

      Clearly a repeat of Fitch scenario.

      If GSP loses and the fans wake up hopefully we can have him removed.

      Anyone who takes a fight to the ground should be fined their purse, this would make things more engaging.

      Is this what it is coming to?

  • Advance*

    I’m guessing a lot of people will be upset about this but the guy had plenty of chances, especially for someone who’s not that exciting. He was close to a title shot twice and lost before he finally did earn one. People will probably talk about how he’s 3-1 in his last 4, but the better way to think of it is he’s lost twice since his title shot. He would be starting from scratch on basically his fifth run at the title.

    • Lucas Freire

      I say one name to you: Bisping. 10 title runs
      The problem is Okami doesn’t sell his fights, but he has more valuable wins than Bisping.

    • Timothy Malone

      By being vague you are making him seem worse than he is. Prior to his Silva title shot he was 10-2 in the UFC with his only losses decision defeats to Rich Franklin and Chael Sonnen. Since the title shot he has lost two of five fights but the most recent was to the guy ranked #3 in the division. If that means you shouldn’t be in the UFC then they might as well cut 95% of the guys in there.

  • fsunoles10

    i think its pretty messed considering he only lost one fight after he just had a 3 fight win streak 2 of which were legitimate fighters.

    • Sir_Roy

      Problem isn’t just in winning and losing. Okami doesn’t generate a lot of interest. And it’s too bad.

    • Mark McDowall

      I think this is another case of “John Fitch Syndrome”. He’s winning fights…getting paid great money but not the guy people are buying the PPV’s for and generally considered boring….

  • Vdm Uly

    Dana is just a greedy businessman, that’s it. Too bad 🙁 Even Bellator is much more ffun to watch now!

  • MMA

    When is the UFC going to cut Dana?

    • Alexander

      When he’s no longer making the company money, like Okami.

      • Milosc


        One loss… after three straight wins?

        What ‘wouldn’t’ you agree with?
        (be honest)

        • Alexander

          Winning fights in the UFC does not generates income for the company. Leonard Garcia lost 6 of his last 7 in the UFC yet they kept him because he was exciting and thus generated more interest for the fans (ultimately, it is fan interest that generates income for the UFC whether in the form of PPVs or higher TV ratings which in turn increase ad revenue). While it sucks for Okami, it’s not like I’ll miss him.

          • L

            But this isn’t boxing or the WWE. its marketed as a sport, it should be run as a sport.

          • Milosc

            I didn’t even realize you wrote this, until now! 😀

          • Milosc

            Well, in that case:

            Bring in Jose Canseco, already [so he can get a title fight with Brad Pitt, on a bed of florescent light bulbs]

            (‘Blind capitalism’ and sports don’t mix. MMA is a “sport”, chief)

    • canada mike eh!

      yeah he needs to go away for this sport to grow- its not the dana show- fighters have personal conduct policy- but not him- cant stand listening to his BS

  • Timothy Malone

    I think it’s an absolutely stupid decision because Okami is one of the best but they did say he can come back so we will see.

    But aside from that, I think it also shows the UFC is still not eager to try to break into Japan again. Okami was the only successful Japanese fighter in the UFC.

    • Marcus L

      Yes Okami is one of the best, but the UFC is first and foremost a business. Like some of the earlier posters mentioned, this situation is similar to Fitch.

      Okami has been in the UFC for a very long time and as a result his price tag is extremely high — does Okami’s performance and PPV pull justify the cost? How many times have you heard “Oh Okami’s fighting? I gotta buy that PPV!”

      For some reason people can’t get it though their heads that the UFC is a business and like any business in the real world, if you’re not making the company money, you’re deadweight and you get cut.

      • Timothy Malone

        I don’t know what the UFC financial situation is in the Japanese market where Okami would be most valuable. But regardless it hurts the legitimacy of the whole organization when they publish official Top Ten rankings and then fire guys off the rankings while keeping others that lose multiple fights in a row.

        • Marcus

          Unfortunately, for the UFC, the top ten rankings are more like guidelines set to appease the consumers (us) and MMA media in order to justify matchmaking. I remember how we were all complaining that a top 10 should be introduced, and it was around the time of the FOX deal if I remember correctly.

          I agree that Okami would help in the Japanese market, but the UFC just doesn’t go to East Asia enough to make a difference in my opinion. It seems the only sure thing in the UFC is that they don’t cut you if you win.

          • disqus_1vlWNfdPOM

            And whats the knock on boxing? That the best fights don’t get made? And here we have a No.6 ranked MW being cut… He won’t be in any more fights, yet he was a LOT better than these kids coming off TUF…

  • TheCerealKiller

    Bellator’s gain!

  • robc

    He has only finished 2 guys in his last 10 fights and in those 10 fights he has 3 losses. He is definitely not a PPV draw (the comparison to Fitch is relevant). He is talented and tough as nails but boring as hell. I wonder what would happen if GSP lost a couple of fights…

    • Werdoomb

      not sure if the toughness is still there.

      The dude hasn’t looked great in the last few fights. His reflexes and chin are going down.

  • This just shows how rough the fight game is. Now I was a Yushin Okami fan, and I was very upset with him on how he fought Hector Lombard but the guy is still a high level fighter. Even though many of you are upset, it really does show that the UFC only keeps around the best of the best. At the same time it’s not only that there could have been some bad business as well that we don’t know about. The real question is this. If Bellator gets Okami then what do former UFC fighters have to gain if they end up fighting other former UFC fighters?

  • james j

    Always liked Yushin. Decent gatekeeper.

    • Werdoomb

      Decent gatekeeper? The dude was a contender.

      The MW landscape has changed and Yushin, although 32, has a lot of MMA mileage.

      I’ve been noticing in the last year or so. Yushin’s reflexes and chin have deteriorated. Not exactly at Nogueira’s level but let’s just say Yushin can’t perform at his peak anymore.

      In any case, if you recall, for about a year or so the top two contenders at MW were Yushin and Nate.

  • candelario

    Okami needs talk trash and start sh@t …. it generates interest and Dana loves a bad boy … Okami is just to clean

  • Sir_Roy

    I wonder though, at how Dana can truly believe the 185lbs division is stacked. Stacked with what? Middleweight is arguably the least stacked division outside of Heavyweight IMHO. It needs a handful of new up and comers like Weidman to reinvigorate interest.

    • Dragon Kid

      Same goes for Flyweight division but then again, I doubt anyone cares about that division!

    • Lucas Freire

      With the Weidman win I think it’s pretty stacked.
      We got Weidman,Silva,Belfort,Jacare,Rockhold,Machida, a new pumped up Munoz, maybe Chael, maybe Rashad, Mousasi…

      • Sir_Roy

        Of those, how many truly interesting fights do you see left? Tired of Machida’s style so I could care less how he mixes it up at MW.

        Silva’s last interesting MW fight starts and finishes in December. Pending on the oucome, I might be interested in seeing him square off against Jacare … maybe …

        Pride veterans have all mostly been around the block with one another already. In some cases, a few times.

        Rockhold got owned by Belfort … makes him less interesting right out of the gate for me.

        Weidman, Jacare and Mousasi still hold interest IMHO. That’s about it. At least for me personally.

        • Lucas Freire

          See, there’s a difference between a stacked division, and an interesting division. It may look like the same, but with the end of Silva’s reign, almost every top contender has a chance at being the champ. That’s what makes a division stacked in my opinion.

  • Derek Lemaster

    This news is total crap! He IS NOT anything like Fitch. I always enjoyed his fights. Sure, he has a hefty price tag, but in the real world, if you’ve managed to stick around for 7 years they will reward you with higher pay. The UFC is not hurting like they were before, and dammit Okami is a good dude! Maybe people dont get amped up when he’s on a PPV, but thats cuz he’s humble and quiet. I cant recall seeing him in any duds that warrant canning the guy. If anything, keep him around as an excellent gatekeeper for up and comers, because you gotta be a badass to stomp Okami. This sucks.

    • Dragon Kid

      He lacks explosiveness and his last few fights that he won were boring.

    • Mark McDowall

      I totally agree with you. I always enjoyed his fights…but if you ask the majority of fans what fights they are looking forward to on a PPV…chances are that an Okami fight isn’t the reason. I think he’s a great fighter and has alot of good fights left in him…but the UFC wants guys that sell fights to warrant the big pay days…unfortunately Okami wasn’t evening out that ratio…

  • julian moran

    He´s 13 and 5 in the ufc. He won 3 out of his last 4 fights and they cut him? Bad decision as far as the legitimacy of the UFC as an mma promotion.

  • canada mike eh!

    dana is an idiot

  • tbag

    And he lets leben lose loads and stay WTF!

  • Obi-Wan Granoli

    that’s total crap.

  • KevStinx

    So when do we get to cut GSP?

    You talk about boring? This guy takes repetitive boredom to a new level.

    When GSP comes up in a conversation, the talk suddenly becomes uninteresting with nothing to say about GSP apart from he does the same s*** again and again.

    On the plus side, GSP can talk better English than Okami, so he can try and sell a fight, but much luck with his personality.

    I get the feeling the UFC is like a dollhouse and the fighters are getting treated like disposable toys. Almost dragons den like, if your fights are not entertaining enough then you are released.

    UFC = entertainment business

    Not sure why you buy up all the has been fighters from other mma organisations if the UFC roster is stacked.

    It has been stacked full of s*** for years now, obviously has a couple of legit fighters.

    Even the retards that get on the TUF show are a joke at times, but its a cheap way to groom talent which is already in the media. This builds a loyalty for fans who have watched TUF throughout.

  • Darin

    ….and the UFC takes one more step toward becoming the WWE.

  • Guest

    It sucks, and it sounds pretty messed up considering his record and wins over top middleweights, but to be completely honest, I can’t really say I’ll miss him. I mean how many fans out there were really like, “I’m buying this PPV to watch the Okami fight” lol

    • Guest

      Oh and I’m quite sure this comment will have me labeled a “noob” “troll” “UFC fanboy” “nuthugger” or some other lame term that seems to be popular on this website by those who label themselves hardcore fans because they watched a few Pride fights on youtube…lol

  • Mr Pete

    Okami is just another oversized fighter muscling people out of weight class. His offense consists of a jab and wrestling with weak to average ground and pound. Not good enough to be champ but big enough to eek out decisions.

  • MuayThaiFood

    In a conversation on Twitter, UFC president Dana White responded to questions about why Okami was cut loose by saying, “our roster is packed.”

    What a red herring! The top ten is packed also but he’s still there.

  • Ping

    People keep talking like they could do a better job than Dana. Well unless any of you have turned failing companies into thriving companies you should probably shut your mouths. We don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. Maybe Okami wouldn’t except a pay cut. Maybe the UFC found he just wasn’t generating fans. People like to forget the UFC is not a charity network. It’s business trying to make money.

  • John Carryway

    UFC has gotten so boring. So happy I started watching boxing two yrs ago. It’s like UFC was rising to the top and boxing was dying. But lately UFC has become so boring. I don’t get excited for any fights the way I do for boxing. In UFC it feels more like it’s for entertainment then a real sport nowadays.

  • Guest

    Okami is boring fighter.

  • Bimby

    Okami is a boring fighter.

  • solo

    Im not suprised with this one. I personally wasnt interesting in Okami fights for so long at all. He lacks excitement. And all wins that he had lately, i would take all those 3 wins by one great KO. Sincerely.

    Hope he learns from this and fights his way back.

  • the_truth_hurts

    this is one of Dana’s dumbest moves ever…this guy was ranked in the top 10 in his division…so by cutting him he kills the credibility of the rankings…it’s all over money & he already doesn’t pay the fighters enough money…he brought MMA to the level it’s at today, but he looks like he’s trying to destroy it as well…Dana, just a dumb move…the fans have lost respect for you for this…keep making stupid moves

    • Werdoomb

      We need WAMMA.

  • L

    This is why Dana DIDN’T want a ranking system. He hates rational criticism. Its obvious here they thought Okami’s pay exceeded his drawing power. Will they say as much? Of course not, because Dana wants to pretend UFC is run like a legitimate sport (ie. not like boxing).

    Dana learned well from boxing’s mistakes, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t guilty of making them as well (such as poor matchmaking)