Late substitute Buddy Roberts steps in for the departed Rousimar Palhares, to take on Yushin Okami on the main card of tonight's (Sat., Aug. 11, 2012) UFC 150: "Henderson vs. Edgar 2" pay-per-view (PPV) from the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
Okami, looking to come back after his heartbreaking knockout loss to Tim Boetsch, faces a virtual no-win situation against the little-known Roberts, a scrappy battler who won his UFC debut in June and now faces a former world title challenger and long-time contender in Okami.
On top of losing two in a row to the elite of the division, "Thunder" simply doesn't move the needle enough to justify a three-fight skid. If he loses, it could mark the end of his tenure with the world's largest fight promotion. If he wins, it will be because he was expected to, considering he's a near 6-to-1 favorite on some sportsbooks.
But can Roberts shock the world and put his name on the map?
Follow me after the jump for our complete breakdown of the UFC 150 bout pitting Yushin Okami vs. Buddy Roberts.
Okami's not the most exciting fighter in the world, but he's readily effective. If the vintage Ohio State running game under the legendary Woody Hayes was "three yards and a cloud of dust," Okami's pretty much that version when his cylinders are hitting. It's three clinches and a cloud of takedown, with Okami relentlessly overpowering people and usually riding them silly to a decision. Roberts really has nothing to lose here, and as a Greg Jackson-trained product coming in on short notice, you can bet he'll have a gameplan that is as good as it can be. The problem is, outwrestling Okami isn't an option, as Roberts doesn't have the takedown chops. However, Yushin's standup is very limited, and he tends to rely on a basic one-two before clinching up and going about his preferred business. If Roberts can deny him, and rattle Okami with shots early, he'll definitely be building confidence. He's got to do it early and plant doubts in Yushin's head. If Roberts is taken down in the first round and kept there, he's got problems, because there's plenty more where that came from.
I've been watching Roberts on the West Coast scene for a while now, and wondered when he'd make it to the UFC, so it was nice to see him get picked up. He's a tough fighter that is resilient and with a good bottom game and submissions. However, this is a huge jump up for him. Which I think is an advantage, because he has nothing to lose. Okami really is in a no-man's-land at 185. He's lost to Anderson Silva in hopelessly one-sided fashion. He's not particularly marketable given his fan-unfriendly style (read: wrestling and top control, which causes virtually everyone clad in an Ed Hardy shirt to boo), and he's a foreigner that doesn't speak much English (at least none I can recall), so he can't even play up a little Chael Sonnen schtick and talk smack to hype up his fights. Throw in the Boetsch loss on the heels of the Silva KO, and imagine what Okami's mental state is. It will be a zillion years before he ever gets a title shot again. I think Buddy Roberts pulls the upset here, getting taken down early but landing enough on the feet to pull off some close rounds en route to a split decision win.
Roberts via split decision
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the main card action on fight night (Saturday, August 11, 2012), which is slated to air at 10 p.m. ET on PPV. The latest quick updates of the live action will begin to flow earlier than that around 8:00 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FX Channel.
See you later!
Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst or firstname.lastname@example.org.