Okami Draws Boetsch, Home Field Advantage for UFC 144


Yushin Okami will fight on Japanese soil for the first time since 2006 when he squares off against Tim Boetsch at UFC 144, promotion officials announced Tuesday.

Headlined by a lightweight title clash between Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson, UFC 144 goes down Feb. 26 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The UFC’s first foray into the Land of the Rising Sun since 2000, the event is also expected to feature former Pride Fighting Championships star Quinton Jackson.

Widely regarded as one of the world’s top middleweights, Okami (Pictured) has won six of his last eight and holds an overall UFC record of 10-3. “Thunder” recently had a three-fight winning streak snapped when he challenged longtime middleweight king Anderson Silva at UFC 134 in August in a rematch of their 2006 Rumble on the Rock clash. Silva avenged his disqualification defeat and defended his belt in spectacular fashion, knocking out Okami midway through the second round.

Known as “The Barbarian,” Boetsch has gone undefeated since dropping to middleweight, outpointing Kendall Grove and Nick Ring in 2011. The 30-year-old is in his second run with the world’s largest MMA promotion, previously competing as a light heavyweight. Boetsch returned to the promotion last year, earning a unanimous decision over Todd Brown before submitting to Phil Davis’ one-armed kimura at UFC 123.

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