Akiyama wants Wanderlei
- 02-16-2010, 12:18 PM
Akiyama wants Wanderlei
Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) is in limbo for at least another week.
The Japanese star was due to take on Wanderlei Silva at UFC 110 on Feb. 21 before the promotion replaced him with Michael Bisping with assurances he would eventually face the winner of the Australian card's co-main event.
In an email interview with MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps | MMAjunkie.com), Akiyama said through an interpreter that he was disappointed by the shake-up and still wants to face Silva (and get the middleweight title while he's at it). According to sources within his camp, he may instead face either Silva or Bisping at UFC 115 in Vancouver if this weekend's winner remains healthy.
Akiyama has fought only once in the octagon – a controversial split-decision victory over Alan Belcher at UFC 100 – since the UFC announced his signing in February 2009.
Back in his home country, Akiyama is a popular figure with crossover appeal in the entertainment industry despite his role in a high-profile fight scandal which involved MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba, and later, a controversial no-contest decision against PRIDE and Sengoku veteran Kazuo Misaki.
Appearances aside, Akiyama said he was a victim of the "UFC jitters" in the July 11 fight with Belcher. He admits it wasn't his sexiest performance.
"I was too nervous since it was the first fight for me at the UFC and there were many accidents," Akiyama said. "Since I didn't have much experience (in the UFC), I took to the octagon with only a purpose to win at that time. As a result, I couldn't fight my way."
Akiyama felt Silva was his ticket to redemption when he got word of the fight this past October. He began training immediately and said he had mapped out a game plan for "The Axe MUrderer." Every day, according to Akiyama, he simulated the fight in practice.
But a month later, UFC officials changed their mind and felt the polarizing middleweight Bisping would draw better for the promotion's first show in Australia.
"I was really disappointed since I focused on it strongly," Akiyama said.
Akiyama took a brief break from the gym after hearing the news about Silva but has since returned to his daily grind.
"I've been focused on recovering from my injuries and I also have been training really hard at my dojo," Akiyama said. "Everything's ready for the next fight as I've been training aggressively every day."
Disappointment has segued to anticipation for his next fight.
"I had looked on a fight with (Silva) as only a passing point, so maybe my dejection was not so much as others imagined," Akiyama said. "But I'd really like to fight against him if given the chance some day."
But as popular as a fight between Akiyama and Silva might be in Japan, a source from Akiyama's camp said the UFC's current television deal with satellite provider WOWOW will not support an event there. The source said the UFC is available in fewer than a quarter-million Japanese homes and is heavily edited.
It's been almost ten years since the Las Vegas-based promotion touched down on Japanese soil for "UFC 29: Defense of the Belts," and The UFC is instead targeting the Pacific Northwest for Akiyama's return when UFC 115 touches down in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on June 12.
There's a big caveat on the date, though: If the winner of Silva vs. Bisping is hurt following UFC 110, Akiyama might need to wait a little longer for an opponent.
Technically, Akiyama has not lost a fight since March 2005 when the 262-pound Jerome Lebanner knocked him out in the now-defunct K-1 Hero's promotion.
Despite the delays, Akiyama said he's happy to be fighting in the octagon and hopes to one day also face another Silva: UFC middleweight champ Anderson.
"He is a great champion," Akiyama said. "I aim for a [UFC title]. I'd like to fight as long as possible until I reach the very top. I'd like to keep fighting for the UFC as far as possible."NSCA - CSCS
- 02-16-2010, 12:58 PM
I would like to see this fight. Akiyama is an interesting talent, although i am curious if he might be better served at 170
02-16-2010, 01:45 PM
02-16-2010, 01:54 PM
Its funny, Akiyama acknowledges the nerves from the 100 fight. Hopefully, he shows some real explosiveness next time out
02-16-2010, 02:01 PM
It could be because he couldn't load his gloves or drown himself in lotion either. I hate Akiyama so much.
M.Ed. Ex Phys
02-16-2010, 02:13 PM
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