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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fight Breakdown: Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami 2

On August 27th, Anderson Silva and Yushin Okami will fight for a second time, this time for Anderson's UFC Middleweight Championship.
Many current MMA fans were unable to see their first fight, prior to either of the fighters competing in the UFC. It was long ago- in MMA years- January 20th, 2006 in Hawai'i. The event was Rumble On the Rock 8. Okami, the wrestler-first fighter, was on a 5 fight win streak, and was matched up with the Spider in the first round of the ROTR Middleweight tournament. While Anderson, a Muay Thai tactician and BJJ black belt, was only riding a two fight win streak at the time, he was favored.
From the bell, Okami was seemingly undaunted by Silva's fearsome striking, trying to close the distance to get into a grappling situation. However, as Silva started throwing, Okami would fall to his guard while Silva stood...much like we've seen from some of Silva's UFC opponents. As the second minute passed, Okami was able to get Silva down, and get into top position in Silva's guard. Silva wasted no time in opening up some space from his back- and unleashing an absolutely vicious kick to the face of Okami. Keep in mind this was from guard- Silva is crazy flexible to pull this off. Unfortunately for him, it was blatantly illegal, and the fight was immediately stopped to give Okami some time. What happened next has been hotly debated ever since:
Okami let the doctors and officials know that he was damaged to the point he could not continue to fight. To this day, Silva maintains it was a cop out on Okami's part. Silva thinks Yushin could have, and should have continued to fight. Silva also maintains he was not fully briefed on the rules of the contest.
I saw the fight, and I've seen it multiple times since. My personal opinion is Okami made the right call. That blow was by far the most significant thing to happen in the fight, and it could very well have altered the rest of the contest.
Fast forward to now, and things have changed somewhat. Anderson hasn't lost a contest since his '06 scrap with Okami- racking up 14 straight wins, 12 of them being finishes, 8 of which were successful UFC Middleweight Championhip defenses. He's generally regarded as the #1 pound for pound fighter in the world by media and fans. Okami lost his very next fight after taking the 'victory' over Silva, against Jake Shields. However, Okami is a respectable 12-3 including the Shields loss, and those 3 blemishes were all decision losses. He's beaten some very name and game fighters, Alan Belcher, Mike Swick, the late Evan Tanner, Mark Munoz, and Nate Marquardt. The Marquardt fight was for the #1 contendership for Anderson's Middleweight title.
As Anderson is the world #1 and has been seemingly unstoppable for the past 5 years, he is the favorite headed into the second fight with Okami. He is the fan and media favorite, but I think he's been given a little too much favoritism. Yushin is really good at the one thing Silva is not great at: wrestling. Like him or hate him, Chael Sonnen showed us all what a good, aggressive wrestler is capable of doing to Silva. A little known fact about Sonnen and Okami is this: after they fought at UFC 104, a fight Sonnen won in a unanimous decision, Okami reached out to Sonnen, and actually went to Team Quest and trained with Chael. As he's proven with his most victory over a solid wrestler in Marquardt, Okami is certainly showing his improvement and is a top wrestling talent in the UFC.
All that said, Silva has a clear advantage in most other areas. His wicked striking enables him to be the aggressor in most of his contests, and his Jiu Jitsu enables him to hit the canvas in a more fearless fashion than most. No one thinks that Okami is going to pull off a submission on Silva, nor do they expect him to do much striking damage to the Spider, despite the 2" reach advantage that Yushin holds. Unless Okami can land a good shot while setting up his takedowns, or has Sonnen-like success in the wrestling department, I see Anderson retaining his title. Silva has the intangible edge as well, this contest is being held in his home country of Brazil. If Okami can score a good takedown, control Anderson and land more effective ground and pound than Chael was able to, he could be the next UFC Middleweight Champion.
What do you think?

Okami v. Silva I for your viewing pleasure:


  1. I like Okami in this fight, if only to go with the underdog. Someone is going to catch Silva eventually. Why not Okami? One could argue he's best prepared after training with Sonnen he can employ a similar strategy while shooting to avoid the same mistakes. Get him to the ground and smother him with solid g&p. Easier said than done, of course, but standing with Silva just isn't a option.

  2. Would you take Okami over, say, Demian Maia?

  3. Not sure what you mean by even odds? I'm just talking win/loss