Thoughts About Who The Best Japanese Fighter Ever Is
August 18, 2011
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I’ve seen a little bit of debate recently concerning who the best Japanese MMA fighter of all time is. Dana White, doubtlessly with an eye towards promoting UFC 134, claimed that Yushin Okami is the best Japanese fighter ever. This prompted a lot of reaction, mostly from fans claiming that Kazushi Sakuraba should be considered the best Japanese fighter ever instead.
The problem is that everybody is going to have different criteria. If you’re looking for the most influential fighter ever to come out of Japan, it has to be Sakuraba, who is legendary for repeatedly defeating members of the Gracie family. Sakuraba was a very good fighter otherwise as well, as he is known for beating opponents such as Vitor Belfort and Carlos Newton.
However, if you’re looking to find the best Japanese fighter ever based strictly on their ability to fight at a high level, then I would propose two names, and neither of them are Yushin Okami. They’re both lightweights: Takanori Gomi and Shinya Aoki. As far as I see it, Gomi and Aoki have defeated high-level competition on a more frequent and more prolific basis than Okami.
Of course, none of Gomi, Aoki, and Sakuraba happen to be in the main event of UFC 134 on August 27th. Okami is definitely a very good fighter, and one of the best to come out of Japan, but calling him the best Japanese fighter ever is really stretching things in my opinion.
Thoughts on the UFC-FOX deal
I’m just going to write a blurb on this, since there’s no way I can match the intensity of coverage that everybody else is providing. I’ll just say that first, I’m thrilled to see the UFC on major network television, as it represents a major milestone for a sport that was quite ostracized not all too long ago. I also like that the “Gladiator” intro will be gone… that just got far too stale.