Photo by Scott Petersen via MMA Weekly
One of Japan's most popular figures during the boom of mixed martial arts in the country finally made his way stateside and into the Octagon on Saturday night at UFC 126. Norifumi Yamamoto's recent losses to Joe Warren and Masanori Kanehara had damaged his reputation as a top notch fighter in the 145 pound weight class over the course of the last two years, but that hasn't stopped him from fulfilling a dream of proving himself in the UFC.
Unfortunately, Yamamoto succumbed to what many fans believed would be his demise in the Octagon tonight. Over the course of three rounds, Johnson used speedy footwork, impeccable timing, and clean takedowns to dominate Norifumi. Yamamoto landed a few choice blows in the first round and second round, which included a nice knee as Johnson was getting up from the floor, but he was never able to string together any combinations or bomb Johnson at any moment in the fight. Johnson's superior takedown game easily won him a 29-28, 30-27, and 30-27 decision on the judges' scorecards.
Yamamoto will likely have another chance in the Octagon, and it's hard to count him out completely as there are other fighters in the division he could have success fighting. But it's obvious that he'll never be the fighter he once was, especially against the North American style wrestlers like Johnson.