Alan Belcher (14-5) will once again have the opportunity to introduce another stand out newcomer to the Octagon, agreeing to face middleweight superstar Yoshihiro Akiyama (12-1) to the Octagon at UFC 100 from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 11.
"The Talent" is fresh off a comeback victory over Pride FC and Spirit MC standout Denis Kang at UFC 93: "Franklin vs. Henderson" earlier this year. Belcher was taking his lumps before Kang got sloppy and ended up in a fight-ending guillotine.
It was his fourth win in his last five attempts — a surprising technical knockout loss to newcomer Jason Day at UFC 83: "Serra vs. St. Pierre 2" last year is the only blip during that span. He was supposed to challenger Alessio Sakara; however, it appears that the bout has been put on the backburner in favor of this match up, according to MMAWeekly.com.
Akiyama recently signed an exclusive contract with the promotion, signaling that the UFC is serious about gaining a foothold in the Far East. He is fourth-generation Japanese-born Korean and has long been one of Japan’s biggest heels.
That's because Akiyama went Exxon Valdez on Japanese hero Kazushi Sakuraba at K-1 Premium Dynamite!! in 2006. His technical knockout victory over the legend was changed to a "No Contest" after some questions were raised about his pre-fight ritual of getting freaky with a jar of Olay and a Japanese "Grease Gate" was born.
After cleaning the clock of now-UFC middleweight Denis Kang at Hero’s 2007, Akiyama made waves at Yarennoka 2007 when Kazuo Misaki turned his face inside-out with a brutal soccer kick.
While originally ruled a knockout, an Akiyama complaint forced officials to review the tape and reverse the match to a "No Contest" as it was decided prior to the event that kicks to a downed opponent would be considered a foul.
Fans were not pleased.
Still, Akiyama is a talented fighter capable of winning anywhere at anytime — none of his twelve wins have gone the distance. In addition, he can finish in style with either a spinning back kick (Nagata) or an Ezekiel choke (Shibata, Ishizawa).
The decorated judoka has now given the land of the rising sun yet one more reason to loathe him by signing with Zuffa, especially those still bitter by the dissolution of Pride FC.
UFC 100 features two major title fights: Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir will tangle to declare an undisputed division champion and Georges St. Pierre will once again defend his 170-pound strap against number one contender, Thiago Alves.
In addition, TUF 9 coaches, Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping, are slated to meet and determine who earns the right to challenge the reigning middleweight champion later in 2009.
For the latest UFC 100 fight card and rumors click here.