At UFC 134: Rio, Yushin Okami isn’t going to look at the past and let it weigh on how he performs against Anderson Silva in Brazil.
The Japanese fighter has moved on from the disqualification win he collected from Silva at Rumble on the Rock in 2006, recognizing Silva’s illegal up-kick as an accident and nothing more. The focus now remains on his next fight, which is another clash with “The Spider,” only this time Silva holds the UFC middleweight title.
“I thought that was just an accident,” Okami said on Tuesday through an interpreter. “But this is (an) old story. So I’m not… talking about that much. So I’m focusing on my next fight.”
There seems to be more at stake this time around – obviously, since there’s a title involved. But some wonder if Okami truly deserves to be the No. 1 contender to Silva’s crown. Any doubt of that is quickly addressed by UFC president Dana White.
The brash executive holds Okami in the highest of regards. So high is White’s opinion of the fighter, he believes Okami is the greatest MMA talent ever to come out of Japan, citing that the level of talent the fighter has faced has been only the best for years.
“In my opinion, Yushin Okami is the best fighter to ever come out of Japan,” White said on Tuesday. “This guy didn’t come up fighting cans and get this built up mythological record. This guy has been fighting the absolute best for years and I’m sure he feels… (he) hasn’t got the credit he deserves.”
Whatever accidents happened between Silva and Okami in their first meeting will be dwarfed by the impact a win for the Japanese fighter will bring on the mixed martial arts universe. After all, Silva is the top pound-for-pound fighter on nearly everybody’s list, including White’s.
If Okami can handle business in Rio de Janeiro, he’ll get the respect of the entire MMA community. A win over the best grants one that privilege.
“Now, he’s going in against the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, probably the best fighter ever in mixed martial arts,” White exclaimed. “Not only if he wins this fight will he get the credit he deserves, he’ll have beat the best in the world.”
So, not only is Okami fighting for a championship, but also, whether he means to or not, the respect of those doubting his place at middleweight.