Jake Shields returned to the Octagon tonight (Sat., Feb. 25, 2012) at the UFC 144: "Edgar vs. Henderson" pay-per-view event in Saitama, Japan, to take on Yoshihiro Akiyama, who was making his welterweight debut.
Both men badly needed a victory, as Shields came in having dropped two fights in a row while Akiyama hadn't won since July 2009, losing three times since then.
Score one for the American, as Shields worked as hard as he ever has to earn a unanimous decision victory by scores of 30-27 across the board. The win starts the slow climb back up the 170-pound ladder for the former Strikeforce champion.
For Akiyama, this marks four consecutive losses, although just one has come at welterweight. Is this the end of the road for "Sexyama?" Stay tuned.
The fight was ugly in the early going, as Shields did everything he could to get to the floor but Akiyama refused to cooperate. In turn, everything looked sloppy and neither fighter really took an edge.
That is until "Sexyama" used a sweet judo trip to viciously send Shields crashing to the mat. It was a thing of beauty.
The first round had come and gone, though, and Shields was actually landing a few shots on the feet. He wasn't exactly showing a strong boxing game but he was doing something.
Better than nothing, after all.
The second round came and Shields stayed busy, throwing a lot of punches that were failing to do much damage. UFC judges, though, definitely love to see a fighter stay active.
Akiyama earned another takedown late in the second stanza, though he did nothing with it. Shields attempted to do the same but couldn't get it done before the horn sounded.
As the final round played itself out, it became less and less clear how the judges cageside would score the contest. Shields was far more aggressive and his volume was unquestionable. However, he did very little damage and the offense Akiyama got in was as pretty as it gets.
The horn sounded with Shields having executed a takedown and taken Akiyama's back to look for a late submission.
As it turned out, he did enough to earn the decision win with perfect scores across the board. It was tough getting there but he got there.
That's four losses in a row now for "Sexyama." Is he done in the UFC? Should he be?
Remember, too, to check out our ongoing live coverage of the UFC 144 main card action by clicking here.