Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the hurt business tonight (Fri., Sept. 22, 2017) for UFC Fight Night 117, which is set to go down inside Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The FXX-televised event will feature the return of Yushin Okami as he faces off against Ovince Saint Preux on short notice because an injury to Mauricio Rua. In the co-main event, Claudia Gadelha dukes it out with fellow Brazilian bomber Jessica Andrade.
If you’re a fan of Yushin Okami, then this is the fight card is for you. It’s been four years since “Thunder” last stepped foot inside the Octagon, plying his trade under the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) banner, among others, since getting the boot from UFC back in 2013. His comeback fight won’t be easy, as he’ll be facing an always-tough Saint Preux on just a little over a week’s notice. And he’ll be doing it at Light Heavyweight, a division in which he’s never competed.
Original Card vs. Actual Card:
The event originally featured a 205-pound rematch between Mauricio Rua and “OSP” before “Shogun” was forced pout of the bout with a nagging knee injury. Even someone as tough and battle-tested like Rua couldn’t fight through the pain to compete.
In addition to “Shogun’s” unfortunate knee injury, Naoki Inoue was forced out of his fight against Jenel Lausa with a shoulder injury. And Mizuto Hirota was pulled from the card at the last minute because of “health and safety concerns.”
Syuri Kondo will be making her Octagon debut after racking up a 13-1 record in her native japan when she takes on Chan-Mi Jeon, who lost her UFC debut earlier this year. Also, Daichi Abe will look to stay undefeated when he takes on Hyun Gyu Lim. Also, while he isn’t exactly “new blood” to the fight game, Gokhan Saki will make his much-anticipated UFC debut against Henrique da Silva in what will be Gokhan’s second-ever mixed martial arts (MMA) fight after dominating the kickboxing world for more than a decade.
How The “Prelims” Look:
To be honest, there aren’t a whole lot of intriguing bouts, as that portion of the event is filled with mostly unfamiliar names. Though, I am interested in seeing how Jussier Formiga bounces back from his loss to Ray Borg when he faces Ulka Sasaki.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Takanori Gomi — the former Pride FC Lightweight champion and ex-face of Japanese MMA — has lost four straight fights dating back to 2014. And let’s face it, “Fireball Kid” just hasn’t been the same since Pride FC went bankrupt. And his UFC career has been sub-par, going 4-8 since making his debut for the promotion in 2010. If he drops his fifth straight against Dong Hyun Kim, I don’t foresee Gomi fighting inside the Octagon much longer. Which could be what he needs, anyway.
Interest Level: 5/10
It’s a decent card. I was interested in seeing the Rua vs. Saint Preux rematch, but I’ll be eager to see how Okami handles a short notice fight in his first UFC fight in a while. Plus, Gadelha and Andrade have built up quite a rivalry, as Andrade recently questioned Claudia’s loyalty to her home country of Brazil. They will get the chance to settle their beef once and for all and climb the rankings, in the process.
To be honest, the fight I’m most looking forward to is Gokhan Saki vs. Henrique da Silva for the mere interest of seeing how Saki — one of my favorite kickboxers of all time — does inside the Octagon. He has promised violence of the stand up kind when the cage doors slam shut, and he is more than capable and qualified to deliver. While da Silva isn’t exactly the biggest name, we couldn’t expect the promotion to give Saki a Top 10 foe right away. Still, Henrique would love nothing more than to play spoiler. Saki lost his first and only MMA fight back in 2004. A lot has changed since then, but just how much Saki’s game has evolved, remains to be seen.
Full UFC Fight Night 117 Fight Card:
UFC Fight Night 117 Main Event:
205 lbs.: Ovince Saint Preux vs. Yushin Okami
UFC Fight Night 117 Main Card on FXX (10 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Jessica Andrade vs. Claudia Gadelha
155 lbs.: Takanori Gomi vs. Dong Hyun Kim
205 lbs.: Henrique da Silva vs. Gokhan Saki
145 lbs.: Rolando Dy vs. Teruto Ishihara
145 lbs.: Mizuto Hirota vs. Charles Rosa
UFC Fight Night 117 Prelims on FXX (8 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Alex Morono vs. Keita Nakamura
125 lbs.: Jussier Formiga vs. Ulka Sasaki
115 lbs.: Chan-Mi Jeon vs. Syuri Kondo
170 lbs.: Shinsho Anzaivs. Luke Jumeau
UFC Fight Night 117 Prelims on UFC Fight Pass (7:30 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Daichi Abe vs. Hyun Gyu Lim
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