October 15, 2010

Making mistakes is a part of life. Making mistakes is a part of fighting that everyone has to go through at some point in his career. For Yoshihiro Akiyama that mistake was stepping into a fight against short notice replacement Chris Leben and not feeling 100-percent ready for the match-up.

That particular mistake gave Akiyama a loss on his record, but a valuable lesson moving forward.

As the Japanese Judoka gets ready for his UFC 120 main event showdown with Michael Bisping, he’s able to look back and reflect on the Leben fight and learn from it.

“I felt as though, whether it was striking or grappling, I had the advantage over Chris Leben, and it was my strategy (that cost me),” said Akiyama. “There were certain things that were holding me back from fighting at my best in the fight.”

Expanding on that comment, Akiyama believes the Leben fight broke down because of preparation time due to the late notice change from his original opponent, Wanderlei Silva, who had to drop out due to injury.

“I felt like I didn’t have enough time to prepare for my opponent,” Akiyama stated. “During the fight, I wasn’t able to come up with a strategy that is specifically for Chris Leben.”

Akiyama’s concerns for the fight went as high as him almost pulling out of the bout last minute, but he took the fight and, while he definitely had his moments, it was a loss when the night was over.

With a full camp and time to prepare for Bisping, Akiyama has a fresh mindset, and even spent some time in America to get ready for his return to the Octagon.

Training in New Mexico with Greg Jackson and his team, Akiyama picked up some new skills, along with some valuable insight, that he believes will help him defeat Bisping this weekend.

“I was able to learn the intricate skills of the takedowns, as well as better striking for MMA,” Akiyama said about the camp. “Most of all, I was able to learn how to deliver a good three rounds of fight in the cage.”

The fight on Saturday night will be the true test if the training with Jackson and his camp paid off, but Akiyama is confident that he can rebound from the loss and get back on track in the UFC’s middleweight division.