Two men in desperate need of a victory competed last night (Feb. 25, 2012) as welterweights Jake Shields and Yoshihiro Akiyama battled it out on the UFC 144 main card in Saitama, Japan.
After three straight losses, Akiyama finally caved in to outside pressure and was dropping down to 170 pounds for the first time.
Unfortunately for him, cutting down a weight class wasn't enough to end his losing skid.
So what was Jake Shields surprisingly able to do to pull off the victory and end his two fight losing streak? And what's next for both men?
Follow me after the jump for our Jake Shields vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama UFC 144 post-fight review and analysis:
While if you were simply listening to the fight without watching, it sounded like Yoshihiro Akiyama was having his way with Shields, that was far from the case.
Yes, Akiyama with his solid judo background had a terrific sense of balance and ability to stay on his feet. Yes, Akiyama surprised many of the viewers by occasionally tossing Shields all over the place.
But that didn't mean he won.
In fact, it was the striking that was the big difference, and Jake Shields clearly was getting the better of the judoka. In fact, it wasn't even close.
Keeping a fight standing for extended periods and throwing your opponent to the ground don't mean much when you don't capitalize on them and Akiyama did neither. Shields was able to pop right back to his feet after being thrown and he was handily landing a larger volume of strikes with some nice kicks mixed with some punches that were slipping through.
Perhaps the fight would have been different had Akiyama turned up the offense, attempted to keep Shields on his back with ground and pound or at least landed some big power strikes, but the fact of the matter is that he didn't. And the stats back it up pretty strongly as Shields landed nearly three times as many overall significant strikes and well over twice as many overall strikes throughout the three round affair.
So perhaps it wasn't as surprising afterall that Shields was awarded a unanimous decision, even if perhaps he's not as exciting as Akiyama and was only really successful on his final takedown attempt.
For Yoshihiro Akiyama, despite his loss, I actually really like the move to welterweight. He's got the skill to keep a fight standing with his ridiculous balance, now he just needs to learn to better capitalize on that ability. He's got power in his stand-up but his offense is sporadic at best. He's capable of so much more and I'd like to see it. Even though he's lost four straight in the UFC, I think he still deserves one more chance considering the drop down in weight.
If the UFC does decide to keep him around, I'd like to see "Sexyama" battle someone along the lines of Mike Pierce, Rick Story or perhaps he could be the man to finally welcome Mike Swick back to the UFC if he's recovering fast enough from his injury.
For Jake Shields, yes, he was able to win, but again, he just left a big feeling of "meh" in the aftermath of the fight. He has yet to really impress in any of his four UFC fights. Matt Bishop pointed out that the UFC didn't use one highlight of any of his previous fights in the Octagon for his introduction during the "Face the Pain" intro to the event. Maybe it's the cut to welterweight or perhaps the leap in competition, but he just hasn't brought much excitement to his fights yet. Hopefully we get to see something more in the future. I wouldn't rule out a return to middleweight either as I feel that was where he was at his best.
For future opponents, Charlie Brenneman would make a lot of sense as both men have similar styles. Other intriguing possibilities include Dong Hyun Kim or Mike Pyle. It would be nice to see an opponent really bring out that killer instinct in Shields again.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did you see Shields' ability to outstrike Akiyama or were you mesmerized by the takedown defense and pretty throws? Do you feel Akiyama deserves one last shot in the UFC?
For complete UFC 144 results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here, here and here.