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UFC 82: Evan Tanner vs. Yushin Okami (Exclusive)

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Evan Tanner vs Yushin Okami ufc 82
Former middleweight champion Evan Tanner (32-6) will return to action against top 185-pound contender Yushin Okami (21-4) at UFC 82: "Pride of a Champion" on March 1, 2008, at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. ( has learned from a reliable source that bout agreements are signed, marking the return of Tanner after a two-year self-imposed break from competition.

Talk about getting right back on the horse -- Okami is among the best in the division. It certainly is not a "tune-up" fight for Tanner. But that shouldn't be too surprising since he is well known for taking on the best in the sport and leaving it all inside the Octagon win or lose.

He submitted Justin Levens (triangle choke) after back-to-back losses to David Loiseau (UFC Fight Night 2) and Rich Franklin (UFC 53). Tanner lost his 185-pound title in the fight with Franklin, getting overwhelmed for much of the bout and forcing the doctor at ringside to call a halt to the action.

The self-taught mixed martial artist is currently back in Las Vegas -- after a long strange trip outside the cage -- trying to get back into top form. Tanner updates his Web site frequently with his latest adventures and training news.

Okami just re-signed a new four-fight deal that ensures he remains in the UFC 185-pound mix. He had a setback earlier this year, losing his only fight inside the Octagon to Rich Franklin at UFC 72: "Victory" via unanimous decision. "Thunder" (or is it now Phoenix?) holds wins over notables such as Jason MacDonald, Mike Swick, Rory Singer, Kalib Starnes and Alan Belcher during his time as a UFC fighter.

He is known as a slow starter who fights his fight each time out. However, Okami may not have that luxury against an animal like Tanner.

For the latest rumored UFC 82 fight card click here.