by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
It was a rocky road for his first win in the UFC, but Japanese superstar Yoshihiro Akiyama got past Alan Belcher in a controversial split decision to kick off the UFC 100 pay-per-view show.
The early going saw Belcher and Akiyama go after each other in a stand-up war, with the American seeming to get the better of the exchanges, although both landing their fair share. Belcher landed probably the biggest shot of the first round with a punch that put Akiyama directly on the mat, but the Japanese superstar recovered quickly.
Akiyama battled back in the second round with a quick takedown early, and he spent the first half of the five-minute session trying to land punches to his opponent on the ground. Belcher returned fire late in the round hitting some very solid leg kicks that seem to buckle Akiyama just a bit, with both fighters losing steam as time ran out.
As the fight was razor close going into the third, both Belcher and Akiyama seemed to gain energy, coming after each other and trying to get the win. At one point, Belcher reached into his bag of tricks and jumped off the cage and threw a Superman punch at Akiyama, landing flush with a right hand.
The Japanese fighter stayed in the pocket though and did manage a late takedown, and some good strikes of his own as the fight came to the end.
As the judges’ scorecards were read, the fans in attendance quickly learned that it would be a split decision, and in the end, Yoshihiro Akiyama got the nod. One judge actually had the score 30-27 for Akiyama, which seemed somewhat strange as there was little doubt that Belcher won at least one round in the fight.
Belcher’s coach, Duke Roufus, was visibly upset after the fight ended, as UFC commentator Joe Rogan noted that he believed Belcher was robbed in the decision.