After a loss to Ronaldo Souza at UFC Fight Night 28, top ranked middleweight Yushin Okami rather suddenly found himself without a contract. There’s been some recent talk of a possible deal with the WSOF, but considering Bellator is currently the UFC’s biggest rival, it’s surprising that CEO Bjorn Rebney hasn’t yet reached out to Okami.
When asked if he’d like to sign the Japanese fighter, who some sources still rank as high as #5 in the division, Rebney stated that he isn’t really sure.
“I don’t know,” Rebney said in an interview with MMAjunkie.com at Bellator 101.
“I’m always interested in talented fighters, and at this stage, when there’s really just two of us (promotions) out there, there’s a lot of guys that have been here long-term for us that are now fighting in the UFC – I think by last count, 24 of them. And there are surely a good number of UFC fighters that were under long-term [contracts] with them that are now here – 15 of them, I think. So I don’t know.
“He’s an entertaining fighter – obviously, has had a little bit of a skid as of late. But I really haven’t given it much consideration. We’ve got the week-by-week [events]. I’ll go home and rest and see my wife for a few hours and go right back to work on Saturday. Tough question – haven’t given it a lot of thought. I did hear about it because I’m on Twitter and I read everything, but I don’t really have a definitive statement of a yay or a nay.”
Rebney added that right now, Bellator is focused on its first PPV show, as well as the end of its Season 9 tournament. Once that is over with, they might turn their attentions back to signing new fighters like Okami. That is, unless the WSOF gets to him first.
“There are times during the year that open up where we’ve got a lot more flexibility to consider stuff, and there’s other times where we’re just like a train on the track,” he said.
Okami won a total of 13 of his 18 fights in the UFC, including a failed bid for Anderson Silva’s middleweight title. He currently holds a 29-8 record in his MMA career.