UFC 144: Yushin Okami vs Tim Boetsch booked for Feb. 26 in Japan

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has announced a blockbuster middleweight match-up for its return to Japan, pitting former division number one contender Yushin Okami against the new-look Tim Boetsch in "Thunder's" homecoming fight.

From UFC.com:

"Undefeated since dropping down to middleweight, Tim ‘The Barbarian’ Boetsch has verbally agreed to face top three ranked Yushin ‘Thunder’ Okami February 26th in Tokyo, Japan," said UFC President Dana White.

UFC 144, which takes place on Feb. 26, 2012, in Japan's Saitama Super Arena, is expected to air stateside on Saturday night (Feb. 25) in its usual pay-per-view time slot due to the difference in time zones.

Okami (26-6) was kicked out of "Rio" after getting the lights dimmed by reigning division champion Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 134 back in August.

The loss snapped a three-fight winning streak for the Kanagawa crusher, who is 10-3 inside the Octagon with his only defeats coming to Silva, Chael Sonnen and Rich Franklin.

Will he be able to deal with the new-and-improved "Barbarian?"

Boetsch (14-4) was cranked and spanked by 205-pound phenom Phil Davis in November 2010, prompting the rough-and-tumble New Englander to shed some excess skin and try his luck at middleweight.

The results thus far, have been stellar.

He's already disposed of Kendall Grove and Nick Ring to cap off a perfect 2011 fight campaign and a decisive win over Okami could go a long way towards getting him "in the mix."

UFC 144 is expected to be headlined by a 155-pound title fight featuring Ben Henderson, fresh off his unanimous decision win over Clay Guida, taking on reigning lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. In addition, Jake Shields returns to action against Yoshihiro Akiyama.

Stay tuned to MMAmania.com for future updates to this still-developing fight card.

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