TORONTO - Most fighters dream of avenging sour losses on their record.
Chuck Liddell waited six years to get another crack at Jeremy Horn. Quinton (Rampage) Jackson suffered a second brutal knockout on his quest to beat down Wanderlei Silva. Hell, even Frankie Edgar is still looking for retribution against Gray Maynard.
But if UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva is itching to settle the score with Yushin Okami, he’s keeping his lips sealed.
“No, a fight is a fight,” Silva said dryly on a recent UFC conference call. “Okami is a good fighter. The first fight between me and Okami, I didn’t have the big fight experience in the cage. But this time, I have experience, I have technique and I have conditioning.”
Silva is set to defend his strap for a record ninth time when he meets Okami in the main event of UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro Aug. 27. But the two go back more than five years to Rumble on the Rock 8, when Silva was disqualified for an illegal up-kick.
Prior to the fight, Silva had fought for years in Brazil and Japan, where the strike would have been legal. He also claimed the rules hadn’t been properly explained to him beforehand and that Okami was offered time to recover, but opted instead to take a cheap DQ win.
But you can’t blame Silva for biting his tongue now. He’s had to answer questions about the loss for the last five years but is less than two weeks away from potentially putting the issue to rest for good.
As for Okami, he said he doesn’t feel Silva was fighting dirty that night.
“I thought that was just an accident,” Okami said though his translator. “This is an old story, so I’m not going to be talking about that too much. I’m focusing on my next fight.”
Perhaps taking a page out of Silva’s book, Okami avoided commenting on how he’s been overlooked for years by critics and fight fans. Instead, he turned attention to a bigger issue by saying he’s fighting for his country.
“Japan is suffering and in a very difficult situation, but those people are cheering me. When I bring the belt back to Japan, it would add one more boost to the Japanese recovery.”
Finding Okami’s answer a bit dry, UFC president Dana White interjected to roll out the big sell.
“I don’t think Yushin can say it as well as I can,” White began. “First of all, in my opinion Yushin Okami is the best fighter to ever come out of Japan. This guy didn’t come up fighting cans and get this built up, mythological record. This guy’s been fighting the absolute best for years.
“I’m sure he feels and a lot of people feel he hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves. Now he’s going in against the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world — probably the best fighter ever in mixed martial arts. Not only, if he wins this fight, will he get the credit that he finally deserves, but he will beat the best in the world.”
White’s claim regarding Japanese fighters will likely stir quite a bit of debate among fans and critics, who will no doubt respond that MMA legends like Kazushi Sakuraba, Takanori Gomi and Genki Sudo, among others, would rank ahead of Okami.
At the very least, Okami will be the most successful Japanese competitor in UFC history should he defeat Silva for the championship.
But in the past it almost seemed like fate didn’t want the two to face each other again.
The two were set to meet at UFC 90 almost three years ago, but a broken hand forced Okami off the card. Silva would go on to defeat Patrick Cote via TKO as a result of a knee injury sustained by the Quebec native mid-match.
Okami soon began working his way back up to a title shot, but was derailed by Chael Sonnen at UFC 104. Following the unanimous-decision loss, Okami started training with Sonnen, who would later dominate Silva for 20-plus minutes at UFC 117 before succumbing to a triangle armbar in the fifth round.
“He has fought Anderson before and he knows what kind of fighter Anderson is,” Okami said. “By training with him and talking with him, I have learned a lot of things from Chael’s experience.”
Silva admitted he expects a similarly difficult fight from Okami, but once again kept his answer brief.
“Yeah, of course; I train for the best fighters in the world,” Silva said. “I’m ready; I’m very excited for this fight.
“Okami is a good fighter, but a fight is a fight. Maybe I win, maybe Okami wins — I don’t know. But I promise I’m ready for the fight. That’s it.”
Fitch is back
Jon Fitch is ready to return to the octagon.
The top welterweight made the announcement Tuesday via his Twitter page.
“I’m back!” Fitch wrote. “Dr. Kavitne gave me the OK to fight.”
In his last outing, Fitch went to a draw against B.J. Penn at UFC 127 in February. A rematch was immediately scheduled for UFC 132 July 2, but Fitch pulled out in March to nurse a serious shoulder injury.
Since dropping a unanimous decision to welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 87 almost three years ago, Fitch put together a five-fight win streak prior to his stalemate against Penn.
Rumours are swirling Fitch could meet hot prospect Johny Hendricks at UFC 139 in November, but nothing has been confirmed.
Rio ga-ga over UFC 134
As the head of a fight promotion that’s synonymous with hard-hitting action, it’s ironic UFC president Dana White admitted he went soft on storming Brazil.
UFC 134 will be the organization’s first show in the country in almost 13 years, but Rio de Janeiro’s HSBC Arena has already proven to be too small a venue.
“Obviously the guys we have fighting in the UFC and on this card are icons in the sports world down there,” White said on a recent conference call. “It’s a big deal. We’re very excited about it; it sold out fast.
“It’s one of those shows where we were a little gun-shy. I don’t know how many people know this, but we have a 14,000-seat arena down there and 350,000 people were online looking for tickets.”
With a response like that it’s no surprise White is already looking into holding more shows in the country.
“We’re working right now on taking the UFC all around the different cities in Brazil.”
Work cut out for Kampmann
Dutch kickboxer Martin Kampmann is expected to return against Rick Story at UFC 139 in November.
Though a date and venue have yet to be announced, UFC 139 will likely take place at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. on Nov. 19 and feature a heavyweight championship fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos. Following an impressive unanimous decision over Paulo Thiago at UFC 115 in Vancouver last year, Kampmann was close to being in the welterweight title mix. But after dropping a split decision to Jake Shields last November and losing a controversial unanimous decision to Diego Sanchez in March, Kampmann has his work cut out for him to get back his contender status.
Story earned the biggest victory of his career at UFC 130 in May, defeating Thiago Alves via unanimous decision. However, his momentum was cut short by underdog Charlie Brenneman one month later.
UFC's M.A.S.H. unit
Lightweight Jim Miller is one of six fighters to receive an indefinite medical suspension following UFC on Versus 5 Sunday.
Miller must undergo a physical exam and CT scan before he will be cleared to compete again. The lightweight contender had his seven-fight win streak snapped after getting brutalized by former WEC champion Benson Henderson in the co-main event.
Both Duane Ludwig and Amir Sadollah join Miller on the suspended list following their entertaining stand-up battle that saw Ludwig punish Sadollah for three rounds.
Ludwig requires a physical exam, CT scan and an x-ray on his right hand — which he used to great effect on The Ultimate Fighter winner’s face. As for Sadollah, he needs to complete a neurological exam and CT scan.
Also indefinitely suspended: T.J. O’Brien for rib and leg injuries, Kyle Noke pending an MRI on his knee, and C.B. Dollaway is required to undergo both a neurological exam and CT scan.
Show them the money
In the final fight of his career, Chris Lytle became the first UFC competitor to win over $500,000 in fight night bonuses. Since April 2007, the world’s largest MMA promotion has consistently announced payouts for the best fights, knockouts and submissions on each card.
After submitting Dan Hardy in a wild brawl at UFC on Versus 5 Sunday, Lytle won both fight and submission of the night, bringing his grand total to 10 awards. Here’s a look at the top dogs in the UFC.
Chris Lytle: $515,000
Anderson Silva: $475,000
Diego Sanchez: $295,000
Joe Lauzon: $290,000
Josh Koscheck: $270,000
Alan Belcher: $270,000
Sam Stout: $255,000