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Yoshihiro Akiyama draws Jake Shields for welterweight debut at UFC 144

Japanese fans are in for a treat, as the UFC has announced Yoshihiro Akiyama will make his long-awaited welterweight debut as part of the organization’s February 26 stop in Saitama Japan for UFC 144. Better yet, continuing the trend of apt adversaries for Akiyama, the 13-4 Judoka will face former Strikeforce champion Jake Shields for what should be a co-headliner alongside Frankie Edgar’s title-defense against Ben Henderson.

Only 5’10”, Akiyama made the decision to drop to 170 pounds after falling in three straight fights including a brutal knockout loss to Vitor Belfort in August. He holds past wins in his career over Melvin Manhoef, Denis Kang, and Alan Belcher, as well as a number of exciting performances to his credit including a “Fight of the Year” candidate against Chris Leben at UFC 116.

Shields is also coming off a strike-based stoppage after Jake Ellenberger finished him off less than a minute into their headlining bout at UFC Battle on the Bayou. Prior to the defeat he had gone the distance against Georges St. Pierre, becoming the first fighter to win a round from the Canadian champ in years, and entered the title-fight coming off victories over Martin Kampmann, Jason Miller, and Dan Henderson.



    Whoa!!!-Talk about a gimmee for my fellow californian mountain man Shields

  • MCM says:

    great match making in this one. Sexyama is 1-3 but should be 0-4 in the UFC and Sheilds is 1-2 but should be 0-3 in the UFC. I’m gonna go with Akiyama in this one, just cause I never liked Sheilds and I don’t think Akiyama will be afraid to engage.

  • Rece Rock says:

    Loser stays in Japan.

  • Ahem….according to one of the judges Shields took TWO rounds from GSP.
    I think Shields should be able to take this one….Akiyama’s striking is only so so and Shields grappling is better than damn near anyone….sub by shields in the second.

  • MCM says:

    well gosh. If a Judge said he lost two rounds, he must have. Judges don’t make mistakes when it comes to things like MMA matches.

    In all seriousness superdave, Shields has had the most underwhelming performance of any top fighter to enter the Octagon. He was consensus top 3 and most peoples #2 WW on the planet when he signed with the UFC and has looked like complete sh*t since.
    Akiyama may have only been an Asian sensation when he signed up, but he’s given as good as he’s got in his fights and has actually increased his fans base since joining the UFC.
    I’m voting purely with my heart in this one as I’d be happy never watching a Jake Shields fight again.

  • MickeyC says:

    YA they needed a local in some kind of co-mainevent.

  • fanoftna33 says:

    Shields wins here but it isnt a easy fight for sure as Akiyama has a solid ground game and probably better striking, I still think Jake gets back on track with a decent fight here.


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