Okami tops Marquardt in UFC 122 eliminator

Saturday night saw the UFC make its return to Germany at Oberhausen’s Konig Pilsener Arena, with 8,421 fans present to watch the action.

Although the event was not of the same scale as last year’s UFC 99, it must surely be judged a success when you consider that the UFC is banned from appearing on German television.

The big news coming out of UFC 122 is that Yushin Okami is the No. 1 contender in the middleweight division, slotted to face the winner of February’s title match between champion Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort. Okami earned the championship opportunity in less-than-exhilarating fashion, edging former challenger Nate Marquardt in a match that often tried the patience of the crowd.

Unsurprisingly, given what was at stake, both fighters were cautious. Okami controlled much of the fight with his superior wrestling, repeatedly going for takedowns. Marquardt showed impressive takedown defense, but that often resulted in the fight stalling as Okami was able to maintain position against the cage.

When Marquardt was able to force Okami to exchange standing, Okami was often able to keep him at bay by popping out the jab. In this he was aided by Marquardt’s decision to headhunt with the big right hand instead of properly setting up his punches. Marquardt came on strong in the final round, but it was not enough to save him with Okami being on the winning side of a unanimous decision.

All but one of the other fights on the main card also went to decision, although only Duane Ludwig vs. Nick Osipczak was particularly close. Indeed, the judges’ decision in that fight was somewhat controversial, with Ludwig getting the nod on two of the judges’ scorecards despite spending much of the first two rounds on his back.

Krzysztof Soszynski and Amir Sadollah both won more decisively, controlling the majority of their fights with superior standup. Sadollah dissected Peter Sobotta with excellent Muay Thai. Soszynski was just too big and heavy handed for Goran Reljic.

In the one fight on the main card that finished inside the distance, home favorite Dennis Siver showed tremendous hand speed to catch Andre Winner with a hook that landed flush on the Brit’s chin. Siver quickly moved to finish the fight, taking Winner’s back and choking him out before the end of the first round. That earned him the Submission of the Night bonus.

Karlos Vemola earned the Knockout of the Night for a brutal TKO victory over Seth Petruzelli. The Fight of the Night saw German fighter Pascal Krauss outpoint Mark Scanlon.