MMAJunkie is reporting that longtime UFC top 10 Middleweight Yushin Okami has been released by the UFC. I'm expecting all of the same arguments to emerge in the comments sections that happened when Jon Fitch was released, but this isn't the worst thing in the world for Okami.
1. Okami is out of the UFC title picture. His blowout loss to Jacare Souza means that Okami's days of being in the Mix are officially over and it is tough to see him getting back in the picture with guys like Machida, and Mousasi dropping to the division that already has Jacare, and Belfort in line for shots.
2. Bellator is hiring ex UFC fighters at a very rapid pace. Any organization that will hire Aaron Rosa, and Lavar Johnson should at least make a call to Okami's representative to see what he wants. Okami holds a recent win over former Bellator Champ Hector Lombard, and would be an instant favorite to win a Bellator MW tournament, and title. Bellator may see value in potentially having a Japanese champion. UFC has very few Japanese contenders, and it may help Bellator negotiate a TV deal, and deals with Japanese prospects if they see a Japanese fighter having success. They may have also noticed the bump in the world rankings, and legitimacy that WSOF fighter Josh Burkman got from his victory over Jon Fitch, and hope that one of their fighters can catch Okami in a state of decline.
3. WSOF is in the (painful) process of holding a MW tournament to crown it's first MW Champion. If they bring Okami in, they could give him one fight, and position him to fight the winner of the tournament. Anthony Johnson's next fight with the organization is his last on the 3 fight deal he signed, so WSOF might be looking for the next familiar face to help headline their shows.
4. Signing Okami would be a big coup for OneFC. He is one of the most successful Japanese, and Asian fighters of the last decade, and while he is likely starting to decline a little, recent wins over Lombard, and Alan Belcher show that he still has some gas in the tank. This would be a very good signing for OneFC.
5. Okami could retire and become a trainer. One of the biggest criticism about Japanese MMA is that they have fallen behind the curve in modern training techniques and methods. Okami has trained stateside with the likes of Team Quest, and others for an extended period of time. If he were to move back to Japan and begin training fighters, his services should be high demand. Okami has very good wrestling, striking, and his improvement in all of these skills has been significant over his UFC run. He is exactly the type of guy that Japanese MMA needs training the next generation of fighter.
Most likely what happened here was that Okami was either at the end of his contract, and could not come to terms with UFC on a new salary, or UFC straight up asked him to take a pay cut after his last fight and he refused. This is UFC's way of telling Okami to go test his drawing power on the open market, and lucky for him he will almost certainly have the benefit of getting multiple offers to look through.
I also would not be surprised if UFC makes a move along the lines of signing Satoshi Ishii in the next few months to bring in a new "face of MMA in Japan" for UFC to market.