UFC Fight Night: Saint Preux vs. Okami Preview
A preview of Friday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Saitama, Japan.
Updated: Sept. 20, 2017 • 12:13 PM ET
Claudia Gadelha is seeking a third shot at the women’s strawweight title.
The UFC returns to Japan for UFC Fight Night 117 on Friday in Saitama. The main event will be a light heavyweight showdown between No. 6 ranked Ovince Saint Preux and Japan’s Yushin Okami.
Saint Preux is looking for his second consecutive victory after losing three straight fights, including an interim title fight against former champion Jon Jones. His last fight was an impressive second-round submission victory over Marcos Rogerio De Lima in April.
Saint Preux was originally scheduled for a rematch with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, but an undisclosed injury forced the former light heavyweight champion to withdraw from the fight. Saint Preux defeated Rua by first-round KO in November 2014, his most impressive victory to date.
Despite key losses against other top
competition, Saint Preux is still a top contender in the light heavyweight division. The former University of Tennessee football player has solid wrestling and striking, while in the fight against Jones, he also proved he has good conditioning.
Okami will fight in the UFC for the first time since 2013 on Friday. The former middleweight title challenger has competed in several organizations since leaving the UFC and spent most of his career fighting at 185 pounds. Okami was preparing for a fight at middleweight, but took the opportunity to move up to 205 pounds and once again fight in the UFC.
Before Anderson Silva’s seven-year unbeaten streak (2006-13) and title reign in the UFC, Okami was the last man to defeat him. While Silva defeated Okami in their rematch at UFC 134, Okami has also notched key wins over Hector Lombard, Nate Marquardt and Mark Munoz. He last fought in July and enters Friday’s fight with Saint Preux on short notice, but he’ll fight in front of his home crowd in Japan. A win for Okami over a dangerous fighter in Saint Preux would be a glorious return to the UFC for the 36-year-old.
The co-main event of the evening will be a women’s strawweight matchup between No. 1 ranked Claudia Gadelha and No. 4 Jessica Andrade. Gadelha is 4-2 in the UFC (15-2 overall) and coming off Performance of the Night honors at UFC 212 for her submission victory over No. 2 ranked Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Her only two losses are by decision to champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and Gadelha will likely get a third title shot with a victory over Andrade.
Andrade, who is 7-4 in the UFC (16-6 overall), last fought at UFC 211 in May for the strawweight title but lost by unanimous decision. In the title fight against Jedrzejczyk, she showed relentless pressure and heart; and she’ll need to duplicate both to deal with Gadelha’s strength and jiu-jitsu. Prior to that fight, Andrade had won three straight fights. Friday’s bout definitely has Fight of the Night potential.
Rest of the main card
• Also on the main card is Japanese legend and former Pride lightweight champion Takanori Gomi. Gomi is riding a four-fight losing streak and last fought in June, losing by submission to Jon Tuck. At 38-years-old, Gomi is on the wrong end of his career; but he’s often exciting, whether he’s on the giving or receiving end of a finish.
Gomi will fight South Korean Dong Hyun Kim in a lightweight bout. Kim is 1-2 in the UFC and coming off a decision win over Brendan O’Reilly in December. He has a 14-8-3 overall record with 11 wins coming by finish.
• The main card will also feature the UFC debut of kickboxing legend Gokhan Saki, who will fight at light heavyweight against Henrique da Silva. Saki has world championships in Muay Thai and has held the Glory light heavyweight title, to name just a few of his accomplishments. Fifty-nine of Saki’s 83 wins in kickboxing have come by KO, and he has only one MMA fight to his credit, a TKO loss to James Zikic in 2004.
After starting 2-0 in the UFC, Da Silva is on a three-fight losing streak. His last fight was in June, a KO loss to Ion Cutelaba, and he’s known for his kickboxing, so he matches up well with UFC newcomer Saki. Da Silva has to be at the top of his game to get back in the win column and spoil the legend’s UFC debut.
• Two featherweight fights round out the main card, featuring bouts between Teruto Ishihara and Rolando Dy, and Mizuto Hirota and Charles Rosa.
Welterweight fight - Keita Nakamura vs. Alex Morono
Flyweight fight - No. 5 Jussier Formiga vs. Ulka Sasaki
Women’s strawweight fight - Syuri Kondo vs. Chanmi Jeon
Welterweight fight - Shinsho Anzai vs. Luke Jumeau
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims
Welterweight fight - Daichi Abe vs. Hyun Gyu Lim