Just one day after the first local star (Yoshihiro Akiyama) was added to the UFC’s return to Japan, UFC officials announced today that another native will be coming home for UFC 144 in February, as former middleweight title challenger Yushin Okami will look to return to contention against Tim Boetsch.
Okami (26-6) lost in his most recent bout, succumbing to strikes from middleweight champion Anderson Silva in their rematch at UFC 134 in August. Prior to that defeat, Okami won his previous three fights, and six of his last seven. He last fought in Japan in June 2006, his last match before joining the UFC.
Tim Boetsch (12-4) made his middleweight debut in May at UFC 130, and has not lost since. He defeated Kendall Grove at that event, then went on to hand Nick Ring his first career loss at UFC 135 in September. Boetsch has four career losses, all to top opponents including Phil Davis, Matt Hammil, and Vladimir Matyushenko. All four of those losses were at light heavyweight.
This will be the first fight outside of the United States for Boetsch, and the third straight fight outside of the country for Okami.
UFC 144 will take place on February 26th in Saitama, Japan, and air live in the United States on the 25th. The main event will feature UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson and also includes Yoshihiro Akiyama taking on Jake Shields.