UFC 126 is going to be a big night for many fighters. Names such as Miguel Torres and Demetrious Johnson are making their debuts for the organization since making a name for themselves in the WEC. Debuting in the Octagon is a very big deal; often times it can rattle the physique of the fighters. However, two big names from Japanese MMA cannot afford to have such a feeling.
Michihiro Omigawa and Norifumi Yamamoto are two of the biggest names in Japanese mixed martial arts to make their way into the UFC’s venue. Both of these fighters carry a lot of weight back in their homeland. With that comes an added amount of pressure to do well during Saturday’s Pay per View. Other Japanese greats such as Takanori Gomi, Shinya Aoki, and Yoshihiro Akiyama were all less than stellar during their time on US soil. Their performances have led to questions as to whether the Japanese scene of MMA is beginning to fade. A lot for anyone’s shoulder to bear as they make their way into the cage.
Both fighters have very strong tests in front of them. Undefeated Chad Mendes awaits Omigawa while Yamamoto must face off against 7-1 Demetrious Johnson. Both of these fights are winnable for the MMA veterans and in my opinion, neither they nor Japanese MMA can afford a loss.
At 12-8-1 Michihiro Omigawa does not hold an “impressive” record. He started his career with an abundance of success, but an early jump to the UFC proved to be a major setback for his career. He fought twice for the UFC losing by decision to Matt Wiman and Thiago Tavares. Since being released by the organization he has amassed an 8-2-1 record, including his current five fight win streak.
“Kid” Yamamoto is looking to turn around his fortunes with a win in his Octagon debut on Saturday. From 2002-2007 Yamamoto ran up a 14-fight win streak that included wins over standouts Royler Gracie and Caol Uno. However, 2009 was the first time that he suffered back to back defeats. He took five months away from action and returned at DREAM 14 to win over Federico Lopez by first round knockout. Known for his knockout power, 13 of Yamamoto’s 18 wins have come by knockout; 10 of which have occurred in the very first rounds.
Japanese MMA is still relatively new to the casual mixed martial arts fan. However, two big names will be on the largest MMA stage in the world at UFC 126. Hopefully this will mark the rebirth of the “Land of the Rising Sun.”
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