Believe it or not, but UFC 98: "Lesnar vs. Mir 2" just got better.
Former number one middleweight contender Yushin Okami will return to the Octagon to challenge surging 185-pound stand out Dan Miller at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 23.
Okami bested Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Dean Lister at UFC 92: "The Ultimate 2008" in Dec. 2008, re-establishing himself as a top contender in the middleweight division. "Thunder" was the front runner to challenge 185-pound stalwart Anderson Silva for his division title before the Lister match; however, he was sidelined with a hand injury that temporarily derailed his championship aspirations.
The Japanese import — who holds a controversial win over Silva under the Rumble on the Rock banner — has won seven of eight fights inside the Octagon. His lone loss during that span was to former champion Rich Franklin back at UFC 72: "Victory" in June 2007.
With a win over a Miller -- a very tough and underestimated competitor -- Okami would certainly appear to be back in the hunt. In fact, UFC President Dana White already indicated at the UFC 92 post-event press conference that Okami had earned a crack at the belt ... again.
It appears that Miller may now be the only thing standing in his way.
Miller was among several talented IFL fighters who Zuffa picked up when the promotion folded back in 2008. He was the last man to hold the IFL title; however, he was never able to defend the belt after defeating Ryan McGivern via submission (kneebar) to win it back in May.
A Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, Miller defeated Rob Kimmons via first round submission in his promotional debut at UFC Fight Night 15 in September 2008. Four weeks later he followed that up with an encore performance, stepping in for an injured Ricardo Almeida to topple Matt Horwich via unanimous decision at UFC 90: "Silva vs. Cote."
Most recently, Miller filled in again as a replacement to school blue chip prospect, Jake Rosholt, via submission (guillotine choke) at UFC Fight Night 17. It was another big win for the New Jersey native who trains at AMA Fight Club; however, Okami will certainly be his toughest test to date.
This is a great match up that pits two of the best in the division against one another for the right to join Demian Maia and Nate Marquardt in the suddenly crowded 185-pound division title challenger picture. Indeed, the winner of this match could fly under the radar and emerge as a serious threat as the action all unfolds in the coming months.
Better late than never.
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