By UFC standards, it was a weak outing.
But Yushin Okami wouldn’t complain if Saturday night’s UFC 122 took place in a dark basement before a blind audience. The outcome was all he cared about.
The Japanese fighter beat Nate (The Great) Marquardt to earn himself a middleweight title shot in 2011.
Okami survived a couple of submission attempts from the American in the first and chose to keep the fight standing — a rare move for the strong clinch and ground expert.
Between some innocuous takedowns, both fighters seemed more ready to stand and trade, with Okami ultimately getting the judges’ nod in a 29-28, 30-27 and 29-28 unanimous decision.
UFC president Dana White had guaranteed the winner a title shot against the winner of champ Anderson (Spider) Silva and Vitor (The Phenom) Belfort, slated for February.
Okami has a victory over Silva, though the W may be deceiving. Silva was disqualified during their Rumble on the Rock fight in January 2006 after an illegal kick giving Okami the win.
UFC 122 from Oberhausen, Germany was a card that was criticized for its lack of star power from the moment it was announced.
It took another blow in the hours before the fight when Italy’s Alessio Sakara was forced to pull out of his co-main event fight against Jorge Rivera due to illness.
Before a comparatively lightweight crowd of only 8,421, the German UFC did feature a buffet of finishes for those in attendance and some good back-and-forth scraps.
Winnipeg’s Krzysztof Soszynski showed again that he seldom has a boring fight.
Soszynski grinded out a decision victory over Croatia’s Goran Reljic, ending the third round throwing bombs on a downed Reljic and winning every round on the cards.
Germany’s Dennis Siver didn’t disappoint the hometown crowd, beating Andre Winner with a rear naked choke at 3:37 of the first round.
The Ultimate Fighter winner Amir Sadollah got back in the win column with a unanimous decision over Peter Sobotta and Duane (Bang) Ludwig got a split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28) over Nick Osipczak .
In preliminary action, Vladimir Matyushenko earned a much-needed victory, snapping Brazil’s Alexandre (Cacareco) Ferreira’s seven-fight win streak with a ref stoppage due to strikes at 2:20 of the first round.
The aging Belarus fighter came into the fight having suffered a first round TKO to light-heavyweight sensation Jon (Bones) Jones and needed the win to remain relevant in the 205-lb. class.
In other action, Pascal Krauss beat Mark Scanlon by unanimous decision; Kyle Noke defeated Rob Kimmons with a rear-naked choke in the second round and Karlos Vemola made short work of Seth Petruzelli with a TKO due to strikes at 3:46 of the first round. Carlos Eduardo Rocha gained a kneebar win over Kris McCray at 2:21 of the first round.