At UFC 162 in Las Vegas, lightweights “Stormin” Norman Parke will go up against Kazuki Tokudome in what is sure to be an explosive bout between two extremely conditioned and well-rounded warriors. While Tokudome has a physical advantage in height, Parke has the edge in experience, with six more wins under his belt while Tokudome has one more loss and tie than his opponent. Both of these men were serious judo players, which suggests that we will see some great clinch fighting and throws in the 155-pound matchup.
In Stormin’ Norman’s last two fights, he landed 43% of his strikes and six of nine takedowns. A whopping 83% of his strikes were thrown from the standing position, but with such little information to back up these statistics, it can’t be said that he won’t expand on his ground-and-pound game during this fight. He has avoided 60% of the strikes thrown against him, but none of his opponent’s takedowns. Coming off a win in The Ultimate Fighter Finale against Colin Fletcher via decision, Parke is expected to be a good match against an opponent who he admits is very similar to him. He does however “see a few holes in his game” which he will be looking to exploit. Aside from winning TUF, Parke is a judo black belt, and has been studying the art for the last decade. He was ranked top 10 in the UK, was the Cage Contender European Lightweight Champion, an Irish judo champion, and Irish wrestling champion. Finishing eight of his 18 wins in the first round (three knockouts and 12 submissions), he knows how to put an opponent down and finish them quickly. It is likely that his lack of ground and pound is due to the fact that he would rather finish a fight instantly by forcing his opponent to tap out.
Tokudome has a more serious grappling background, and being that he and judo share a birth country, it is no surprise that Tokudome is a second degree black belt in the style. He also has a purple belt in jiu-jitsu, which supplements his judo game significantly. In his last two fights, he matches Parke’s successful strike ratio at 43%. He also has nailed the two takedowns he attempted, avoids 57% of his opponents’ blows, and 75% of their takedowns. Also coming off a win, he is definitely hungry to keep his streak going and show Americans that Japan still has a rich warrior culture built on the principles of bushido and martial arts. Tokudome was ranked the number two 155-pound fighter in Pancrase, and with five KO’s and three submissions, two-thirds of his victories have come without any help from the judges.
Although Tokudome has a superior ground background, I still see this fight going to Parke. Tokudome’s takedown defense may be a problem for Stormin’ Norman, but even if Tokudome brings this fight to the ground, Parke is more than capable of finishing it from there. His submission game is solid and his wrestling skills are superb, which may be a problem for a judo player like Tokudome.