22 Jan 2014 06:00:46 AM
Yushin Okami on Bridging the East-West Training Divide and Moving Forward After His UFC Release [Tokyo Dispatch #2]
By Elias Cepeda
I got off the Oedo subway line from Shinjuku station at the Kiyosumi Shirakawa stop and waited for a few minutes to meet up with my guide for the night, Stewart Fulton. Stewart is a Scottish ex-pat who has lived in Tokyo for over a decade. He’s also a professional fighter and has bled and sweated with some of the best fighters in all of Japan.
On this Friday night, Stewart is taking me to the gym of the man UFC president Dana White has said is the best fighter to have ever come out of Japan — Yushin Okami. Uncle Dana may very well be right about that.
It’s an interesting time to visit with “Thunder” because, despite White’s lauding of him, the UFC released Okami last fall. Now, the former middleweight title challenger is signed with the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) and is expected to make his promotional debut in March against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.
Stewart has told me that I can train with the group of select professional fighters that Okami will lead tonight but also warned me that it is a sparring day and that they go hard. After three straight days of hard grappling at other schools in Tokyo, I’m fine with sitting through tonight’s session as a spectator and leaving with my head still attached to my body.
I wonder out loud to Stewart what kind of mood Okami will be in tonight. He hasn’t done many interviews since being cut by the UFC. Okami’s release shocked some observers since he is still clearly a top middleweight. Surely, it shocked Okami as well. Who knows how eager he’ll be to talk about the topic.
Luckily, there are plenty others to discuss. Namely, training.
Stewart tells me that over the years he’s been amazed that Yushin has never appeared to be injured during training. Injuries happen constantly in training and fighters are almost always nursing several of them that vary in severity.
“I’ve never noticed him favoring an injury during practice,” Stewart tells me.
“Either he doesn’t get hurt or he’s very good at not showing it.”Read More DIGG THIS