UFC Middleweight Alan Belcher rematches Yushin Okami at UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2 on Saturday, December 29 at Las Vegas, Nevada's MGM Grand Garden Arena. Belcher is riding a 5-fight win streak but his name rarely comes up in discussions of possible opponents for champion Anderson Silva.
Belcher says he understands as he explains to BE alumnus Dwayne Finley:
"It is an interesting time right now," Belcher said. "I feel like the UFC is a little bit desperate to make big-money fights, but I don't really fit into that category right now. It sucks, but we'll deal with that when it comes. Right now, I have to win this fight and then probably one or two more.
"After I beat Yushin Okami, I'm not going to be mad if the UFC doesn't have me fighting Anderson Silva in February or March. I want to make it realistic. I want to work for it. I want to legitimately beat everyone in the division with no questions asked. That means if I have to beat Lombard, Bisping, Belfort, Weidman, all of them in 2013, that's what I'll do.
Belcher is one of the few fighters operating in the UFC right now who seems to understand his place in the food chain and why Anderson Silva and the UFC are more focused on booking a super fight like Silva vs. Jon Jones or Georges St. Pierre than Silva against the relatively unknown Belcher.
Ironically his very humility and common sense may be the very thing that's holding him back from getting the kind of fan attention that might lead to a title shot.
Belcher also breaks down Okami's game:
"[Okami] is threatening with what he does," Belcher said. "He's really tight and really athletic. He has a big body and throws fast punches nice and straight. He can kick a little bit, he's hard to hit, and strong. He pressures you, puts you against the cage, and tries to clinch up with you. He has good take downs. He is good on the ground and good at holding you down.
"He's good at what he does but at the same time, it's very easy to figure out what he's going to do. He's very predictable. I have a lot of options with the things I can do. I have a lot of different styles and strategies I use. I have a lot of different ways to beat him where for him to win, he has to keep pressuring me and has to take me down. That's pretty much it."
Both fighters have improved a lot since their 2006 bout which Okami won via unanimous decision but I have to think Belcher has improved more. He's gone from being a relatively one-dimensional striker who can be overmatched on the ground to a very well rounded martial artist.