Yushin Okami Gets Slot in Native Japan, Meets Tim Boetsch at UFC 144

UFC middleweight Yushin Okami

Yushin Okami

Middleweight fight booked for February

For the first time in more than five years, Yushin Okami will get to fight in front of his home Japan crowd.

The UFC middleweight contender, Anderson Silva‘s most recent challenger for the 185-pound title, will face Tim Boetsch at UFC 144, which will take place Feb. 26 in Japan. The UFC announced Tuesday that verbal agreements are in place for the bout.

Okami (26-6, 10-3 UFC) got his second chance at Silva in August when the UFC returned to Brazil for the first time since 1998, and had to challenge for the Brazilian’s title in hostile territory. Now he’ll get a chance for a home bout of his own. Okami remains the last fighter to beat Silva, though that win at Rumble on the Rock 8 nearly six years ago comes with an asterisk – Silva was disqualified for an illegal upkick. In their rematch, Silva dominated, scoring a second-round TKO in Rio de Janeiro. Prior to that, Okami won six of seven fights.

Boetsch (14-4, 5-3 UFC) will be looking for his third straight win after consecutive unanimous decision victories over Kendall Grove and Nick Ring in 2011. Both those fights took place at middleweight after Boetsch dropped down from light heavyweight. Boetsch has won six of his last seven with the only setback being a submission loss to Phil Davis at UFC 123 a year ago.

UFC 144 will take place at the famed Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, just north of Tokyo. It will be the UFC’s first trip to Japan in more than 11 years. Already booked for the event is a lightweight title fight between champion Frankie Edgar and top contender Ben Henderson, whose win over Clay Guida on Saturday earned him a shot at the title. And Japanese fighter Yoshihiro Akiyama will meet former welterweight title challenger Jake Shields, who is seeking to end the first losing streak of his career.