Japanese MMA fighter Yoshihiro Akiyama will be making the move to the UFC’s welterweight division. The veteran UFC fighter made the revelation while talking with Japanese media outlet Sponichi on Sept. 3.
It’s not really surprising Akiyama has decided to drop down to the UFC’s welterweight division, given how unkind the promotion’s 185lbs weight-class has been to him. After earning a split decision victory over Alan Belcher in his UFC debut, Akiyama lost his next three MMA fights.
Akiyama, who hasn’t really been a fan of cutting weight in the past, should do a lot better in the welterweight division. Bigger middleweights like Nate Marquardt have already made the transition in the past, and Akiyama who was an undersized middleweight shouldn’t have any issues making the cut.
Akiyama also indicated he’d like to make his welterweight debut in his native country of Japan, at the UFC event being targeted for Feb 28. Given how stacked the UFC 134 fight card was with Brazilian MMA fighters, I’m sure the UFC already had Akiyama in mind for the Japan event.
With his new move to the welterweight division, Akiyama also plans to implement some new changes to his training regimen. The 36 year old MMA fighter apparently wants to train with current UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. GSP is yet to accept Akiyama’s proposal, and it will be interesting to see how things play out.
On one hand, it doesn’t really make sense for GSP to train a guy that might be challenging him for his welterweight title someday. On the other hand, GSP could probably use the intense striking sparring sessions that Akiyama would bring to the table.
It took three losses for Akiyama to realize the UFC’s welterweight division was the right place for him. At 170lbs, Akiyama shouldn’t have any problems showing UFC fans why he’s the most popular MMA fighter in Japan.