Fan-favorite Yoshihiro Akiyama will get his wish and compete in Japan as lobbied for when the UFC first announced the plan to return to the Land of the Rising Sun with an event early next year.
According to the UFC, “Sexyama” will face grappling ace Jake Shields in a co-headlining clash at UFC 144. The bout will also mark the 36-year old’s welterweight debut after struggling to find his footing inside the Octagon at 185 pounds.
The 13-4 Akiyama has made a reputation for himself as one of the sport’s “must see” fighters with his showmanship and all-out approach to competition. However, at 5’10” his warrior spirit translated into a trio of consecutive losses capped off by a strike-based stoppage to Vitor Belfort at UFC 133, prompting the Japanese icon to cut down to 170 pounds as UFC President Dana White had openly wished for.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC