This Sunday (Aug. 1) the UFC makes its way to the Versus network for the second time this year. Headlining the card will be surging light heavyweight prospect Jon "Bones" Jones taking on the always crafty Vladimir "The Janitor" Matyushenko.
The co-main event of the evening will pit middleweight phenom Mark Munoz against the Japanese grinder Yushin "Thunder" Okami.
Both men are coming off impressive second round stoppages in their previous fights. Okami took out UFC newcomer, Lucio Linhares, via doctor stoppage during their UFC Fight Night scrap back in March.
Munoz was last seen opening the live show for the UFC's first venture to Abu Dhabi for UFC 112 with his fight against Kendall Grove. Mark survived a shaky start and came back with a vengeance in round two, working his violent ground and pound on Grove and finishing the Hawaiian to improve to 8-1 overall.
Last night UFC President Dana White made an appearance on the Versus sports talk show, The Daily Line, to discuss this Sunday's UFC on Versus 2 card. His comments about the middleweight contest should definitely catch the eye (or ears) of Yushin Okami as the boss made the claim for "Thunder" getting a UFC title shot somewhere down the road:
"I think it's time this guy gets a title shot; he's been here a long time."
What's interesting about these comments is that no one has really considered this fight as a number one contender bout or anything of the sort -- especially with Vitor "The Phenom" Belfort waiting in the wings.
Munoz is riding a three fight win streak, which could argue a number one contender opportunity soon after this fight should he defeat Okami, but Okami is 1-1 in his last two fights.
Prior to the Sonnen fight, Okami had been on the sidelines since 2008. His career has been riddled with decision performances in the past and injuries that have kept him from achieving the status that a lot of MMA fans believe he can reach.
Perhaps the best argument for Okami is the "unfinished business" angle from their 2006 bout under the "Rumble on the Rock" banner in which Okami scored a DQ win over Silva.
The Brazilian has not lost since.
But this will be no easy test for Okami. Munoz is a monster with some of the most vicious ground and pound we've seen in years, and perhaps ever in the history of MMA. Few men are able to throw down the incredibly powerful body shots that this guy can pull of while in someone's guard and if Okami gets stuck under the "Filipino Wrecking Machine" you can bet there will be "Thunder" and lightening waiting for him.
Okami has almost always had the wrestling and ground control advantage over his opponents; that is until he faced Chael Sonnen. Sonnen was able to use his stick-to-you wrestling style to stifle any offense "Thunder" could have gained. With Munoz having just as good, if not a better, wrestling game in his arsenal it will be interesting to see if the "Sonnen Blueprint" can still be used on Okami, or if he's filled those holes in his game.
One thing about Mark Munoz is you always hear great things about him coming from his training camp. That's always the case with fighters and their partners, but with Mark it's different. Much like what we used to see coming out about Cain Velasquez when it was still unknown exactly what he possessed. Time and time again you'll hear tough guys rant and rave about Munoz, the level he's training at currently, and just what he's able to do.
For this training camp he's been training with Anderson Silva, who reportedly told Munoz that "Thunder" won't stand a chance against him, and although that's great praise to be given from probably the best source you could possibly get it, the fact still remains that Anderson Silva is the Middleweight Champion, and Munoz is a middleweight.
So here we're faced with another teammate vs. teammate debate. But I guess we'll "cross that bridge when we get to it."
In the meantime, does Okami deserve a title shot with a win over Munoz? Or should he fight Vitor Belfort in a number one contender match?
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