UFC Fight Night 117 Preview

ufc-fn117Mixed Martial Arts have always been deeply rooted in the culture in Asia and the sport of MMA really got its start in Japan.

It’s a massive market for the sport and yet the UFC has been trying to find a star from the region for the better part of two decades.

They have yet to find that star despite bringing in big names that drove the beginning of MMA with Pride Fighting.

It has never worked out as big names from Japan and throughout Asia have tried to break through in the UFC but none have been able to do anything.

There has never been an Asian champion in the UFC and most of the Asian fighters that are on the roster are not the most well-known.

That hasn’t stopped them from trying to find that star and as they return to Japan the UFC has put together a mix of big names and fighters that not many people know of, or at least not yet.

The night starts off with a young welterweight, Daichi Abe fighting at home against an MMA veteran in Hyun Gyu Lim in a true test.

A good performance could launch the undefeated Abe into a great UFC career but he is not the only fighter with plenty of promise.

Syuri Kondo will also make her UFC debut as the former professional wrestler is 5-0 in her MMA career and hopes to be one of the first Japanese women to really make an impact in the biggest promotion in MMA.

The UFC will also be keeping a close eye on Teruto Ishihara who won the Road to the UFC: Japan reality series.

The series was meant to find the new Japanese star but so far Ishihara has struggled in his short UFC career.

Going 2-2 since winning the show and losing his last two fights is not how they imagined the winner of the show would make his impact.

He needs to start winning if he wants to achieve what the show was meant for and he certainly has the potential to do it or he would never have won that show.

Along with these younger potential stars, the UFC will also give the Japanese fans some of their old favourites and one came somewhat unexpected.

Originally the Japanese fight fans were going to see a Pride favourite face off against one of the top light heavyweights in the world.

Mauricio Rua was going to take on Ovince St. Preux where he had started his legendary career but an injury to Rua ended those hopes.mma-sidebar.fw

Instead, a Japanese legend stepped in as Yushin Okami will make his return to the UFC against St. Preux.

In the long search to find that Asian star the UFC gave Okami a chance after he dominated the local Japanese scene.

He began his UFC career in 2006 and began a very good UFC run beating some big names in the middleweight division.

Then he started to struggle with consistency and eventually suffered a number of losses causing him to leave the promotion and head to the World Series of Fighting before finding his way back to Japan.

Although there never seemed to be a plan for the 36-year-old to find his way back to the UFC he got the chance with the Rua injury.

Now he looks to potentially make one last run at a weight class that is far more suited to him in the light heavyweight division.

St. Preux has been in some big fights in the division and is among the top ten in a division that is as up in the air as any division in the UFC.

A win in this fight for either could immediately put them in the conversation for the title against Daniel Cormier.

St. Preux has been close and another win might put him right there in the conversation while a win by Okami could launch a resurgence for the Japanese star.

The division is in such a tailspin right now that there is space at the top and an impressive win could change the face of the championship.

For Okami, it is his second chance to become that star that the UFC has been looking for in the last two decades.

There are plenty of potential stars on this card that the UFC is hoping can make a big impression and show that they belong.

They also are looking to some veterans like Okami who might just be able to make the impact at a new weight class that they hoped he would have years ago.

It will be an interesting card to watch as the UFC heads back to the home of Mixed Martial Arts looking for someone to step up.


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