Posted 09/30/2013 by Marlene Taborda in Untethered MMA

Ten UFC Middleweights Worth Cutting Before Yushin Okami

By Mike Fagan, September 30th, 2013 

The UFC released Yushin Okami this week. Here’s Dana White’s explanation (via MMA Junkie):

“It was the same thing when we were talking about (Fitch). You have to look at a guy,” White said. “Yushin Okami’s been there forever, and I’ve said many times I have nothing but respect for Yushin Okami. I think he’s one of the best Japanese fighters ever. But a guy gets to a point where he becomes the gatekeeper, and they start to go on a skid.”

“When I said this about Jon Fitch, all these fucking idiot experts on the Internet and all over Twitter and everywhere else (were upset) – these guys are big experts, yet I’ve been doing this for 13 years,” White said.

“It’s time for Yushin Okami to go out and test himself outside the UFC, get some wins and maybe come back, and it’s time for some other guys to fight in that division,” White said. “Yushin Okami’s had every opportunity in the world, taking on all the best. He even got a title shot and didn’t win. It is what it is. It’s no different than the NFL, soccer or any other sport. There comes a time when a team moves on and does other things, no matter where the guy ranks.”

Okami held a 3-1 record in his last four fights, the loss coming to Jacare Souza. White was “blown away” by Jacare’s performance, which, you know, is partly because Okami’s been a top middleweight for the last 5+ years. Then there’s the whole thing with Okami being ranked as the #6 middleweight in the UFC’s own polls. (He’s since been removed.)

The UFC paid him $42k/$42k to show and win in his last reported-pay bout. That’s not cheap, but it’s not a backbreaker. The UFC could have cut him and offered him a reduced contract. (Maybe they did, but it seems weird not to mention that.) Instead, they let a top-ten fighter walk.

So, let’s go through the UFC’s middleweight roster and find 10 guys more deserving off their walking papers. I’ll be using this Wiki resource, so if it’s out of date, don’t blame me. In no particular order…

1. Chris Leben – He’s lost four of his last five fights in the Octagon; his last two losses coming at the hands of Derek Brunson and Andrew Craig, who are the long lost son of a famous poker player and a utility infielder for the Miami Marlins as far as I know. He made $51k to show at UFC 162. Leben’s been picked up for a DUI, and has failed not one, but two drug tests during his UFC run. He’s also a poster boy for “too many blows to the brain equal later-life difficulties,” which Dana White apparently only cares about for his top fighters who people might actually give a shit about in their retirement.

2. Mike Swick – Swick is 1-3 in his last four fights, the lone win coming against DaMarques Johnson, who retired a fight later. He made $48k to lose to Matt Brown in his last fight. Swick’s best win in the UFC? Take your pick between Ben “Bellator” Saunders, Marcus Davis, and David Loiseau. Yushin Okami outmanned Swick back at UFC 69.

3. Ed Herman – Herman is 8-5 (1 NC) in his UFC career. He won his last fight by split decision over something called “Trevor Smith,” for which he made $74k (including his win bonus). Herman, by the looks of things, hasn’t beaten a ranked fighter in his entire career.

4. Alessio Sakara – Sakara hasn’t won a fight since 2010 when he beat out-of-the-UFC James Irvin. (He’s 0-3 during that time frame.) His loss column includes UFC washouts Drew McFedries, Dean Lister, and Houston Alexander. His UFC record is under .500 (6-7, 1 NC). He hasn’t fought since last November. His made $42,000 (including a win bonus) in last reported payout (UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones back in 2010).

5. Tom Lawlor – Lawlor is 5-4 in the UFC, where he’s never strung together more than two victories in a row. He won his last fight against Michael Kuiper, and I’ll give you $50* if you can pronounce his last name correctly without looking it up.

* – No.

6. Uriah Hall – Lost the Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale to Kevin Gastelum, who immediatley moved down to welterweight. Then lost to John Howard by split decision. Is now in loser-leaves-town match with Chris Leben at UFC 168.

7. Michael Kuiper – Remember him from earlier? He’s 1-2 in the UFC, with losses to Lawlor and Rafael Natal. He’s fighting Brad Scott next.

8. Tom Watson – Another fighter with a 1-2 record in the UFC. His losses come to 2013 Thales Leites and Brad Tavares. Watson is 31 years old, British, and once lost to Jesse Taylor. Has a cool nickname, though.

9. Nick Ring – Another another UFC fighter with a 1-2 record in his last three. His losses coming to Chris Camozzi and Tim Boetsch. He’s 34 years old. He has a terrible nickname.

10. Jared Hamman – He’s 2-5 in the UFC, on a three-fight losing streak, and hasn’t won since August 2011. But the UFC roster has no room for Yushin Okami!


Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET at, also available as a podcast via iTunes.




Marlene Taborda