UFC releases Mike Ricci and former middleweight title challenger Yushin Okami

Yushin Okami
Yushin Okami

The latest fighters to be released by the Ultimate Fighting Championship are former UFC middleweight title challenger Yushin “Thunder” Okami and “TUF 16” finalist Mike Ricci.

Okami’s release was confirmed by UFC officials a few days ago and the news of Ricci being cut was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.

Mike Ricci was a contestant on season 16 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV show, fighting as part of “Team Carwin”. He made it all the way to the finals in December 2012, where he suffered a unanimous decision loss to Colton Smith. However, during the show he scored impressive victories over Dom Waters, Michael Hill and lastly Neil Magny, who he stopped with a first round knockout, which earned him “Knockout of the Season” honors.

Following “TUF” Ricci returned to lightweight to face former “TUF: The Smashes” contestant Colin Fletcher at UFC 158 in March. Mike won that fight via unanimous decision and then went on to face Myles Jury at UFC 165 earlier this month, but lost the bout via split decision. At 27 years of age, Tristar Gym member Ricci is still young, talented and has plenty of time to pick up some victories and potentially get called back to the UFC after some good performances.

Meanwhile, Yushin Okami  had actually won three of his last four bouts. This leads me to think that the UFC felt his fights didn’t contain enough action, and we definitely know that they want exciting fights. These days a win simply isn’t enough, any fight could literally be your last.

The Japanese native had a good run during 2012, defeating Lucio Linhares, Mark Muñoz and Nate Marquardt. Those three straight victories earned Okami a shot at the UFC middleweight title held by Anderson Silva at the time. Okami lost the championship bout via second round TKO at UFC 134 in August 2011, then dropped a third round TKO loss to Tim Boetsch at UFC 144 in February 2012.

Yushin bounced back into the win column with a second round TKO victory over Buddy Roberts at UFC 150 in August 2012, and followed that up with back-to-back wins over Alan Belcher and Hector Lombard. However, in his most recent outing against Ronaldo Souza at UFC Fight Night 28 earlier this month he dropped a devastating first round TKO loss.

To be honest, I would have thought that after eighteen fights within the UFC they would have at least given “Thunder” one more fight to prove himself, rather then cutting him following a loss against one of the hottest up and coming prospects in the division. Needless to say, I don’t make the decisions and it now looks like Okami will need to find a new home, which I don’t think will be hard for him at all. With the World Series of Fighting and Bellator on the constant lookout for talent it wouldn’t surprise me if we were to see Okami join one of those promotions. It will definitely be interesting to see what happens.

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