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Loser Leaves Town Matches not Exclusive to Pro Wrestling

This Saturday at UFC 92 while most of us will be making our pre-PPV preparations consisting of ordering pizza and putting the beer on ice, a non-televised undercard match between Yushin Okami and Dean Lister will be taking place that could have a lot a stake.

While the vast majority of the country waits for the live feed to hit their television screens, Okami and Lister will be doing battle inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena in a fight that could very well determine which man remains employed with the largest fight organization in the world.

Despite having an impressive 6-1 record in the UFC, Okami has been cursed with the stigma of being known as a “boring fighter.” Furthermore, the UFC is trying hard to get its roster down to 140 fighters and Dave Meltzer speculated in a recent edition of The Wrestling Observer that the loser of Saturday’s non-televised middleweight encounter could have their contract cut by the UFC.

Okami re-signed with the UFC not too long ago but Zuffa retains the legal option to cut most of its fighters following a loss. If Okami doesn’t win Saturday, there’s not much that the UFC can do with him. The question is, what can be done with him even if he wins?

It would appear that capitalizing on the history that exists between UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and Okami stemming from their semi-controversial encounter at Rumble on the Rock 8 in 2006 isn’t a top priority for the UFC right now. Despite having a DQ win over Silva, a planned October title bout never happened due to an injury sustained by Okami. It looks like Okami’s small window of opportunity may have closed because when Silva returns this April at UFC 97, it will be Thales Leites who will be challenging Silva and not Okami.

Okami finds himself in a position where he is not making entry-level money in the UFC, which is both a blessing and a curse. He just happens to fall into the mid-level salary category that fighters such as Fabricio Werdum, Marcus Aurelio, and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou all fell into. From a pure fighting perspective, the latter three all belong in the UFC. However, they weren’t delivering a strong rate of return so the UFC deemed them expendable.

If Okami can’t get past Lister, then he too will likely be deemed expendable. The promotion isn’t going to continue to pay him tens of thousands of dollars to appear in non-televised bouts with no promise of moving up the card.

With a 4-1 lifetime UFC record, Lister doesn’t belong on the chopping block based on merit. However, three of his five fights have gone to decision and like Okami, Lister has developed a reputation for having fights that are less than entertaining.

One of the greatest American-born jiu-jitsu practitioners alive, Lister is by and large a one-dimensional fighter. His standup has made strides but his striking still looked less than polished during a submission victory over Jeremy Horn at the live finale for the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter in June.

And as yet another mid-level salary fighter, Lister has to move up the ladder because the UFC isn’t going to pay him tens of thousands of dollars to appear in dark matches when they can give the same slot to a younger fighter earning $3,000 to show and $3,000 to win.

So while you’re kicking back this Saturday drinking a cold one and downing your second slice of pizza, just remember that at the same time in Las Vegas there will be two men likely fighting for their livelihoods.

22 COMMENTS
  • Binners says:

    It says alot that nobody has even bothered commenting on this article. I don’t think Lister belongs on the UFC, his BJJ is top notch but his all round game is not. Okami does deserve to be here but he’s also pretty boring. I don’t think many fans will lose sleep if either of these guys are cut. Okami will win and maybe get cut anyway.

  • Joey says:

    If he’s 4-1 in the UFC he clearly deserves to be there. Same with Okami, who is 6-1, his only loss coming to Franklin via decision.

  • ttt says:

    the ufc continues to seek sloppy kickboxing rather than technique

  • jj says:

    on a side note, anderson silva’s DQ loss to okami involved the coolest kick from the guard i have ever seen. while it was unfair and against the rules, it would be great if athletic commissions would consider allowing a grounded opponent to kick regardless of the other fighters position.

    this could be a very useful technique to rid of some of the boring wrestler style domination lay and pray victories and could be a good trade off in terms of effectiveness and safety instead of allowing knees on the ground.

  • Lord Faust says:

    I think the article summed everything up nicely. What is there really to talk about; they are unexciting MMA fighters — their immense talents aside.

  • Joseph says:

    I would have DISAGREE with those that say that Okami and Machida are “boring”.
    This is ridiculous, and MMA will become a tough man contest with non-educated MMMA “fans” who think they are “boring”.

  • Jeremy says:

    I know sites and reporters keep saying the UFC is trying to get their roster size down but I am just not really seeing it. Yes they have cut guys, but they have also signed numerous guys as well. To me it seems more like they are shedding some salary, for lower priced guys, or just doing normal business. Cutting guys when they want and bringing in new guys when they want.

  • CubanLinx says:

    i think it would be un-wise to cut either either of these fighters.

  • Bad Monkey says:

    If you’re going to say Lister only has good BJJ, then you’ve got to throw Demian Maia in there as well. The guy has awesome BJJ, but that’s it. When he finally goes against a guy with high level take down/BJJ defense he’s going to get his ass kicked.

  • mike wolfe says:

    If the UFC cuts a fighter, it should be on the basis of losses. A fighter who loses conistently in an exciting fashion is not competitive regardless of the drama. If the UFC is more about theatre than technique, it’s verging on pro wrestling.

  • Scott Whitt says:

    Have have to disagree with your contention that Okami’s DQ victory was “semi-controversial”. Silva clearly kicked him while he was on the round. I am not saying that it was intentional but it was against the rules.
    It was also cool as hell.

  • Adonai18 says:

    I like Lister and hope he can get a win here. He is a very nice guy and I wish him well, especially in this holiday season. But I have to agree Sam, the loser should most definitely get sent packing. And like I said, I hope Lister will be staying around. I think Lister is a great test for up and coming 185lb guys, sorta like a Jason McDonald. Okami is obviously immensely talented and extremely hard to beat, but he is like a horrible version of what Machida does. Not too mention I hated wathcing him finish Tanner with those knees (which didn’t seem to be that powerful, just Tanner had no chin and was so rusty) since I was a huge E. Tanner fan. Anyways, Lister will grind him down and choke him out hopefully. Happy Holidays everyone! You tooSam!

  • jg_zero says:

    Yeah, Okami should be gone because he hurt your feelings by crushing Tanner. That’s completely justified.

  • Rich S. says:

    Neither of these guys should really leave..
    i mean, Yushin has a significant storyline with Anderson, what with the DQ and all.. and Lister is a top notch fighter that could possibly fight at WW if need be, or could always go back up to 205…

  • BigDave says:

    Ok let me get this straight the UFC is signing a bunch of heavyweight punching bags with no talent and gonna cut a guy in either of the mentioned fighters if they lose 1 fight. If there looking to cut guys there are a few names that i would be looking at before okami/lester . Joe Stevenson has not looked good in a fight for well over a year. Randy will never be at the top anymore, liddel can be expendable,brendan vera is just plain horrible to watch. there are just 4 guys off the top of my head that i could do without seeing fight again. Now I know people will say how dare you put Randy and Chuck on the block like that, well face facts Randy is to old to hang with these younger, bigger, stronger, fighters out there. let him go before he becomes a joke. Chuck on the otherhand is begging for a rematch with Keith Jardine, are you serious? This guy is slipping fast and will lose to jardine again and i really just want to see him leave aswell. so thats about it for my opinion on this one see you at UFC 92 where the big three winners will be Forrest Griffin by tko rd2, Silva by kneeing rampages head into next year in rd1, and big nog by the fastest sub in ufc history.

  • BigDave says:

    Oh ya i forgot to mention. Three of the four guys i mentioned had to be peeled off the floor after getting destroyed by there respective opponents in there last fights.

  • Binners says:

    Damian Maia is extremely exciting to watch on the ground Dean Lister is not. Its not about people thinking BJJ is boring its the style of BJJ.

  • keenan says:

    this is terrible i dont care if u think okami or lister are boring there both very very highly skilled fighters, u dont see the nhl kicking out the new kersey devils because they play the trap, if they drop either of these guys is a shame. maybe they are worried okami will take silva, cause im sure not worried about thales or cote… and dana white said silva’s next fight would be at 205, where it should be

  • Austin says:

    i’m kind of pissed that this is unaired.

  • Alvis says:

    humpy slow methodical bjj is out
    slick stylsh aggressive crankin’ bjj is in

    you heard it here folks

    BTW no way is Lister like Jason McDonald. McDonald’s one of my favourites @ 185. Great heart great cardio good scrapper.

    that’s why guys liek Okami and Lister will get cut before the Jason McDonalds of this world. Too slow not gung-ho and exciting enough.

  • platypus says:

    great article, thanks.

    as more money enters mma, it becomes more like sports entertainment, rather than a pure sport

  • ctownhood says:

    I think both of these guys deserve to stay, despite what happens on Saturday. The MW division is far from stacked, and I would love to see a Okami v Silva 2.

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