UFC Japan Predictions: Will ‘Thunder’ Roll In Return?


It’s not receiving much (or any) hype in the tangible post-Mayweather vs. McGregor hangover period, but the UFC will return to the Land Of The Rising Sun tonight (Fri., September 22, 2017) with UFC Fight Night 117 from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

In the main event, light heavyweight contender Ovince Saint Preux will take on short-notice veteran Yushin ‘Thunder’ Okami, who just replaced former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua last weekend. In the co-main, top-ranked strawweight Claudia Gadelha will meet recent title challenger Jessica Andrade for a spot near the top of the women’s 115-pound ranks.

Legendary K-1 competitor Gokhan Sakhi will also make his UFC debut on the card as well when he meets knockout striker Henrique da Silva.

Find who we picked to win on the UFC Japan main card right here.

Yushin Okami vs. Ovince Saint Preux:

Japan native Okami will get to showcase his skills on the grandest stage mixed martial arts (MMA) has to offer in the UFC’s Octagon, and he’ll challenge proven finisher and former interim light heavyweight title challenger Ovince Saint Preux. “”OSP” comes off of a momentous second-round submission win via Von Flue choke over Marcos Rogerio de Lima. Okami is riding a four-fight win streak and has no intention of becoming the University Of Tennessee alumni’s next highlight reel finish.

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Pick:  Okami via Split Decision.

Jessica Andrade vs. Claudia Gadelha

Andrade comes off of a failed attempt at taking UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk’s throne, while Gadelha rides the momentum of a dominant first-round submission win over fellow former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Gadelha is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division and came the closest to downing Jędrzejczyk inside the Octagon.

Pick: Gadelha should retain her position as gatekeeper of the 115-pound title shot with a unanimous decision win.

Takanori Gomi vs. “Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim

The 38-year-old Gomi is a legend of the MMA game and has put on some of the more fierce bouts in the history of the sport, but the game has begun to catch up with the Japanese veteran who is on a four-fight losing streak in which he has been finished in each in the first round. Taking on a competitor the caliber of “Stun Gunn,” who comes off a disappointing loss to rising welterweight star Colby Covington, won’t bode well for Gomi either.

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Pick: Kim via R1 KO.

Henrique da Silva vs. Gokhan Saki

K-1 legend Gokhan Saki will be competing in his second-ever MMA bout since his debut back in 2004, and will be competing in his last fight since April of 2015. De Silva started off his MMA career in an extremely promising way, going 12-0 before losing three straight over the past year.

Pick: I expect de Silva to get back on the winning track with a win over a lesser experienced Saki via R1 KO.

Rolando Dy vs. Teruto Ishihara

Ishihara’s UFC career looked extremely promising after picking up back-to-back knockout wins back in 2016, but after a pair of losses to the likes of Artem Lobov and Gray Maynard, it’s time for him to take a step back against Rolando Dy, who comes into his second fight under the UFC banner. With Dy coming off a second-round TKO loss to Alex Caceres via doctor stoppage, both men have something to prove in their return to the Octagon.

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Pick: Something tells me Ishihara returns to his finishing ways with a second-round knockout win.

Jussier Formiga vs. Ulka Sasaki

Sasaki’s height has paid off huge dividends at the 125-pound weight class, standing at five-foot-ten, and having picked up three submission wins in his UFC tenure. Formiga has lost two of his last three fights to former UFC flyweight title challengers Henry Cejudo and Wilson Reis. Sasaki is looking to get in on the 125-pound title picture and should be fighting with a ton of motivation to do so.

Pick: Sasaki via R2 submission.