UFC middleweight contender Yushin Okami (23-4) has been penciled in to return from the injured reserves list to face former WEC standout Chael Sonnen (23-10-1) at UFC 104 from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif., on Oct. 24, according to UFC Japan.
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 Sonnen — 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.
But a lot has happened since then. Dan Henderson refuses to go away and the winner of Demian Maia vs. Nate Marquardt at UFC 102 is also expecting a shot at the belt.
Okami may need a highlight-reel finish at UFC 104 to help build his case.
That might not be so easy against Sonnen, who rebounded from a first round submission loss to Demian Maia at UFC 95 earlier this year with a unanimous decision win over up-and-coming Dan Miller at UFC 98 last May.
Despite taking the fight on just three weeks notice, Sonnen dominated with his wrestling and looked as good -- if not better -- than he ever has.
Prior to his debut loss to Maia, Sonnen handed a dazed and confused Paulo Filho — who was widely regarded as the second-best middleweight fighter in the world before encountering major personal issues — his first career loss at WEC 37 on November 5.
A win over Okami could once again inch him closer to 185-pound gold.
UFC 104 will feature a main event between UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida and challenger Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez have also been rumored to meet to determine the UFC number one heavyweight contender.
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