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Report: UFC interested in Yoshihiro Akiyama

Korean MMA superstar Yoshihiro Akiyama appears to be a free agent and is reportedly no longer on good terms with his former promotional company, FEG, which operates both K-1 and DREAM in Japan.

During a press conference in Japan earlier this week to promote FEG’s annual “Dynamite!” event on New Year’s Eve, Akiyama was a notable omission from a list of possible participants for the show, according to a report on Sherdog.

The Sherdog report indicates that Akiyama is not longer contractually obligated to FEG and could be looking to sign a deal with FEG’s primary MMA rival in Japan, World Victory Road’s Sengoku promotion.

Akiyama has already reportedly expressed an interest in fighting Japanese MMA superstar Hidehiko Yoshida, who is one of Sengoku’s top draws.

However, it is believed that the UFC is also expected to make a play for Akiyama’s services, as it has long-term plans to promote shows in South Korea and a deal with Akiyama would bolster the U.S.-based promotion’s marketing potential in Korea.

12 COMMENTS
  • Rictor says:

    No source was listed on sherdog (and people over there aren’t reliable sources when it comes to japanese mma) and they omitted the fact that Sasahara told in the press conference that he is in talks with Akiyama na Fedor about their participation on NYE.

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  • Sergio Hernandez says:

    Hmmm…

    My friend and I have a theory that the UFC is trying to bolster its MW division with guys that HAVEN’T been murdered by Silva. This could be interesting…

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  • William W. says:

    “Korean MMA superstar”???

    Come on, did you seriously make that mistake. The guy’s name screams Japanese.

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  • Stan the Caddy says:

    “Come on, did you seriously make that mistake. The guy’s name screams Japanese.”

    Dude, are you serious?? Maybe you should stick to the TUF shows.

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  • Robert says:

    Akiyama is hated in Japan so a change of scenery will probably do him well.He maybe the 2nd best middleweight around.Obviously wil not be able to wear a gi with the Unified Rules by these athletic commissions but will be interesting to see him fight in a cage as well.

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  • AG Silver says:

    William W,

    I thought the same thing you did! However, it turns out that ethnically he is Korean and was born in Japan. In fact, he is a 4th generation Korean.

    So, you’re right in terms of nationality but ethnically (and presumably culturally) he is Korean. He even competed for the South Korean Judo team.

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  • William W. says:

    He technically changed his nationality to Japanese as an adult and competed for Japan’s judo team in 2002.

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  • Fedor says:

    Akiyama is the biggest star in Japanese mma. He is Korean, and is treated like a hero in Korea and like a villain in Japan. The ratings he gets in Japan and Korea when he fights nobodies (his last 2 fights) more then doubled any other fights ratings. He is THE star. Not only that, his only loss is vs JLB and that was in his 2nd fight or so. Not to mention LeBanner is a Super HW. Akiyama would beat Hendo, Bisping, Leben, Marquardt or any other MW you can name in the UFC. A fight vs Anderson Silva would be the best MW fight that could be made right now and I think Akiyama would win and surprise a lot of U.S. fans. Not only that, but he is easily has the best entrance of all time other then Gono’s old PRIDE Bushido entrances.

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  • HexRei says:

    William W. on October 18th, 2008 11:32 am

    He technically changed his nationality to Japanese as an adult and competed for Japan’s judo team in 2002.

    He’s still ethnically korean, the author made no mistake.

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  • ACK! says:

    Akiyama is a good fighter who always puts on a good show. I’d love to see this happen, but I wonder if the UFC will let him continue his dramatic entrances? (Along with Fedor he has some of the best entrance music in MMA.)

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  • platypus says:

    i think akiyama is very exciting, and can easily be a superstar if the ufc marketing machine got ahold of him

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  • shiki31 says:

    akiyama is a great fighter but if he fights in the ufc, he will see that he will need to adjust his game to fight a different kind of fight. in japan, more fights are ground based which is great because you get to see a lot of technical jiu jitsu fights…strikers in japan are big draws (wandy, gomi, rampage, k-1 fighters, etc…) because for the most part they aren’t very common. when these fighters come to the ufc, they get pounded (except for wandy and rampage, but see chonen, nakamura, sokoujou, gomi, etc, etc etc) akiyama is a great fighter, but i don’t think he would match up well against marquardt, a. silva, henderson, bisping, etc…

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