UFC Middleweight bout: Nate Marquardt vs. Yushin Okami
Betting Pick: Marquardt
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In the main event of the evening, two of the Middleweight division’s top contenders will meet with a title shot on the line, as Nate “The Great” Marquardt takes on skilled Japanese veteran Yushin Okami. Marquardt came up short in his last attempt at gaining the title, while Okami has been seated near the top of the division for years now but has yet to recieve his shot at the belt. Marquardt is one of the most well-rounded and dynamic fighters in the division, but Okami has great hands and dominant wrestling, something Chael Sonnen showed Marquardt is susceptible to, so this should be a really entertaining and competitive bout.
Okami, one of the few Japanese fighters to break through to the top level of competition in the UFC, is an extremely skilled wrestler with very underrated and effective boxing. A winner in 5 of his last six bouts, the only loss Okami has suffered since 2007 came against Chael Sonnen, a man he was incapable of out-wrestling. What makes Okami so dangerous is that he not only has a very good double leg takedown, he has a stifling clinch game and the boxing ability to close the distance and hold his own and then some in the striking exchanges. While he is not the kind of fighter who is going to take over a fight with his striking, it is more than good enough to keep opponents from being able to focus solely on staying out of the clinch and preventing the takedown.
Marquardt, a three-time King of Pancrase who is trying to earn his second shot at the Middleweight title, is an extremely dynamic fighter with a variety of offensive tools in his belt. A solid wrestler with good jiu-jitsu from top position and a striking game that has become very deadly over the last few years, Marquardt is arguably the most well-rounded contender at 185 pounds. He is capable of finishing fights in a variety of ways and has one-punch power as well as very good technique in pretty much every area. The only weakness in his game was exposed by Chael Sonnen, which is that his takedown defense is far from impenetrable and he is not overly effective off of his back, although he did have a good guillotine attempt that looked like it might finish the fight.
This is a very interesting matchup, stylistically. Marquardt is clearly the more explosive fighter and has more finishing capability in every range, but Okami’s skillset plays into the only small weaknesses that exist in Marquardt’s style. Still, I think this fight favors Marquardt. His standup is technically better, faster, and certainly more dangerous, and his ground game is good enough that he should be able to hold Okami off well enough to earn the unanimous decision by staying out of trouble and winning the striking exchanges.
Prediction: Nate “The Great” Marquardt via unanimous decision.
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