No one questions Yoshihiro Akiyama's heart, just his smarts and dedication to his craft. With his drop to the welterweight division, the Japanese star may have turn the corner with the UFC.
The promotion brought the Japanese fighter on board with hopes of developing a big star, but the fact that Akiyama was fighting out of his weight class crushed his chances. Between good striking, top notch judo and excellent grappling, Akiyama has a great skill set. He just couldn't employ it against guys who naturally walk around at 210 pounds. More importantly, the extra beef on his frame killed his stamina. Below is a recent photo.
Akiyama's lost three straight. He suffered a bad KO loss against Vitor Belfort. Before that, he was involved in three wars against Michael Bisping, Chris Leben and Alan Belcher. He must be in the plans for the UFC's return to Japan in Feburary and he's earned three Fight of the Nights bonuses, but the UFC can't afford to keep to him around if he loses a fourth straight.
This is a great move by Akiyama, now he just needs to fight to a game plan that favors his strengths and not his opponent's.