Yushin Okami (29-8) was released by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in Sept. 2013.
It took less than a month for World Series of Fighting (WSOF) to swoop up the Japanese Middleweight, but almost six months for the Ray Sefo-led mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion to finally put "Thunder" back in action.
Today, MMAFighting.com reported that Okami would make his promotion debut against Svetlozar Savov at WSOF 9, which is set for Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, on March 29, 2014.
Originally when the multi-fight deal was revealed, it directly correlated to an announcement from the Las Vegas-based company that it had linked up with Pancrase to form WSOF Japan, marking the second international branch of the WSOF brand (the other being WSOF Canada).
The widespread belief was that Okami was set to headline the inaugural event in the "Land of the Rising Sun," but in a statement to MMAmania.com today, Sefo explained the decision to move the 32-year-old's debut to "Sin City."
"We [WSOF] had originally hoped to have Yushin fight in Japan, but we've slightly delayed our World Series of Fighting Japan debut, and we really wanted to have Yushin make his first appearance for our promotion. When we realized we could potentially add him to this star-studded World Series of Fighting 9 card, we jumped at the opportunity."
Sefo acknowledges that the choice to place Okami inside the cage against a relatively unknown fighter the likes of Savov may bewilder some, but reiterates it will not hinder plans to put Okami on a WSOF Japan venture in the near future.
"Not a lot of people know Svetlozar Savov just yet, but I think he's going to be a very tough opponent for Yushin. And to add this fight to a lineup that already features Steve Carl vs. Rousimar Palhares, Marlon Moraes vs. Josh Rettinghouse and Josh Burkman vs. Tyler Stinson was an opportunity too good to pass up. I think this new line up is our best yet, and I'm sure we'll try and add Yushin to our rescheduled Japan date, which will come later this year."
Okami will make his first appearance since he welcomed Ronaldo Souza to the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 28: "Teixeira vs Bader." "Thunder" was on the wrong end of a devastating knockout that night, which ended up catapulting Souza into the top of the 185-pound division.
His opponent, Savov, is only 25-years-old and currently holds a record of (12-4), with 11 of those 12 victories coming via (technical) knockout, a result Okami accomplished just four times in his 18-fight UFC career.