Before coming to the UFC, Yoshihiro Akiyama had only officially tasted defeat once in his career and that was his second fight ever against a legit heavyweight kickboxing world champion.
But since entering the Octagon in 2009, Akiyama has suffered three losses and his only win is a victory most believe he very easily could have lost to Alan Belcher in his debut fight.
The man known as “Sexyama” was TKO’d by former middleweight title contender Vitor Belfort in a flurry of punches, ending the fight in less than two minutes.
UFC president Dana White admitted following Akiyama’s third loss in a row that he’s not sure what the future holds for the fighter, but his loss to Belfort was definitely a wake-up call.
“This one was a lot different than his other losses,” White told MMAWeekly.com. “I love this fight. I thought that was going to be ‘Fight of the Night.’ That was my prediction for that one. Vitor handled his business quickly.”
Looking at the fight, White believes it was Akiyama’s front kick attempt, which mirrored UFC champion Anderson Silva’s fight-ending kick against Belfort earlier this year, that lit the fuse to the Brazilian’s dynamite that ended his night.
“When he threw that front kick, Vitor went ape (expletive). He went crazy when he did that and ran in and finished the fight. That pissed him off,” White stated about Akiyama’s offensive attempt.
Now the question remains, what happens to Akiyama in regards to his UFC future?
When signing with the UFC, Akiyama signed a multi-fight deal. Four fights in the Octagon and his record sits at 1-3.
The UFC will be traveling to Japan in early 2012 and Akiyama is a bona fide star there, featured in magazines and on television routinely. If he does stick around, his next bout would almost certainly be on the Japan show in February 2012.
Another option for Akiyama could be dropping down to the welterweight division, where most believe he should be at anyways. Never a big middleweight, Akiyama competed most of his career in Japan where fighters normally walk around closer to their fighting weight as opposed to cutting extra pounds prior to competing.
At five-feet-10-inches tall, Akiyama would be a standard or even bigger sized welterweight instead of an undersized middleweight, but there’s no word yet if he has interest in dropping down to 170 pounds or not.
For now, the unknown surrounds Akiyama, but questions have to be answered because three losses in a row could definitely put the former K-1 star on the chopping block.