Earlier this week it was revealed that Martin Kampmann had sustained significant injury to a knee. It’s not clear if the ACL is completely torn or just damaged, but he will not be fighting Rich Franklin in the Belfast show that the UFC is holding on June 16.
Most reports covering the swap agree that the replacement for Martin Kampmann, Yushin Okami, is probably a tougher opponent for Franklin than Kampmann was going to be. Okami is 20-3-0 and more physically imposing than Kampmann. Further, Okami’s grappling is very good – so good that he was invited to the 2007 ADCCs, which we covered last weekend. While Okami was eliminated from the tournament in the first round, he was eliminated by Demian Maia, who went on to win the 87kg weight class.
It’s accepted by most that this bout was originally meant to be a tune-up fight to build Franklin back up and put him in line for title contention again. With Kampmann out now, and a tougher opponent standing between Franklin and contendership, the UFC’s plans may be foiled, and it will be increasingly hard to keep the tough Okami away from a title fight. Though very friendly, Okami is a harder fighter to market though, as his English is not great (at best) and North American fans will have a harder time identifying with him than Franklin (or Kampmann, for that matter).