The Ultimate Fighting Championship landed in Seoul this week for UFC Fight Night 79: Henderson vs. Masvidal, the promotion’s first stop in South Korea. It also marked Yoshihiro Akiyama’s first fight in the Octagon in more than a year, as he stepped in with Alberto Mina.
A South Korean-Japanese fighter, Akiyama hadn’t fought in 14 months, since he defeated Amir Sadollah in Japan. But returning against Mina, who entered the fight undefeated, would be no easy task.
The first round was close, as both men spent much of the round trying to find a comfortable range for their striking. Mina was searching for the distance with his boxing, which he controlled for the better part of the round, although he didn’t land a lot of significant strikes.
They traded several leg kicks in the opening round, although Akiyama took the advantage there. The effects of the low kicks didn’t really surface until the beginning of the second frame, when the welts and bruising began to show on Mina’s lead leg and he started to favor it a bit.
Akiyama started round two strong, landing more stinging leg kicks and working his jab. But just as it looked like Akiyama might take full control of the fight, Mina stormed him, landing some big punches that rocked Akiyama and eventually sent him to the canvas.
Mina followed him down, winging punches, but Akiyama quickly regained his feet, all the while taking punches to the face. Mina got him back to the mat and took Akiyama’s back, but ran out of time to attempt a submission.
Round two was, by far, Mina’s best, but as the third frame got underway, it appeared he used most of the fuel in his tank. Limping a bit on his lead leg, which Akiyama kept attacking, Mina tried repeatedly to get Akiyama back on the mat, but couldn’t get him there.
Akiyama landed the uppercut several times on a shooting Mina in the final round, and began picking him apart on the feet, looking like he might find the finishing knockout.
Late in the round, as Akiyama kicked, Mina finally scored a takedown, but Akiyama turned it to his advantage as they hit the mat, landing in top position and unleashing some ground and pound strikes.
He eventually forced Mina to return to his feet, and the Brazilian again shot for the takedown. Akiyama easily avoided it, and looked as if he was going to walk away, but surprised Mina by dropping back to the canvas and battering him with punches, elbows, and hammerfists until the final horn sounded.
At the end of the day, a late Mina takedown in the first round may have swayed the judges and the fight to his favor. When Bruce Buffer announced the scores, Mina took a 29-28 advantage from two of the three judges, upsetting Akiyama, as the crowd rained down its disapproval.
Mina’s improved to 12-0, while Akiyama’s record dropped to 14-6 with 2 no contests.