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UFC Fight Night 52 results recap: Yoshihiro Akiyama vs Amir Sadollah fight review and analysis

Yoshihiro Akiyama and Amir Sadollah both looked to make successful returns last night (Sept. 20, 2014) at UFC Fight Night 52 on Fight Pass inside Saitama Super Arena in Japan. By the end of the night, Akiyama proved that his skill set was still quite effective in 2014. Find out how below!

Koki Nagahama

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight veterans Yoshihiro Akiyama and Amir Sadollah fought for their place in the division last night (Sept. 20, 2014) at UFC Fight Night 52 on Fight Pass from Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

Both men entered the cage in similar positions. Coming off of losses in their last performance -- which was around two years ago for both men -- victory was imperative.

Sadollah entered with a bit more leeway. Though he had lost two of his last three, Sadollah had avoided consecutive losses throughout his entire professional career.

For Akiyama, this was an absolute do-or-die performance. Coming off four straight losses at 40 years old, there was little chance of Akiyama staying with the promotion if he lost.

It looks like the Asian Judo games champion is here to stay for a bit longer.

Sadollah entered the bout with a purpose. He immediately opened up with a series of kicks, frequently going high. A head kick partially landed, and Sadollah followed it up with a nice right hand. Then, Akiyama decided he was tired of standing with the Muay Thai fighter.

The next time Sadollah kicked to the body, Akiyama stepped in and landed a beautiful toss into side control. Sadollah recovered half guard and prevented Akiyama's attempts to pass. Akiyama controlled Sadollah well for a couple minutes but did not throw many ground strikes.

Sadollah then managed to work up to his feet. Sadollah lands some knees in the clinch before they break apart. At range, Akiyama lands a spinning back kick.

Round one goes to the hometown favorite.

Early in the first round, it appeared the Sadollah had stolen some momentum. He was aggressively flicking out kicks to the head and legs, avoiding trips, and landed some nice punches. As Sadollah got into his volume striking rhythm, Akiyama attempted some spinning techniques.

Then, Akiyama interrupted Sadollah with a powerful lead right hand. Sadollah tried to get back to his kickboxing, but a hard left hand stunned him a bit. While Sadollah is shaky, Akiyama caught a kick and dove into Sadollah's guard.

As Sadollah hunted for triangles, Akiyama picked his shots. Then, "Sexyama" passed into side control. Sadollah managed to return to his feet near the end of the round, revealing that Akiyama's right hand had crushed Sadollah's nose.

Sadollah entered the third looking a bit worn from the grappling. Still, he pursued Akiyama and flung out multiple high kicks, some of which landed but not cleanly. For about a minute, Akiyama caught his breath as Sadollah fired off his kick-heavy combinations.

Not long after Akiyama landed another spin kick, Sadollah slipped on a head kick, which allowed Akiyama to get on top. This time, Akiyama stacked Sadollah on top of himself and dropped a series of hard punches.

While Akiyama was landing heavy right hands, Sadollah was pretty stuck. After a couple warnings from the referee, Sadollah managed to get back to his half guard. However, the damage was already done, as Sadollah's face was covered in blood when the bell rang.

Frankly, this is the best Akiyama has ever looked. Not only did he return to his Judo roots, but Akiyama's conditioning was spectacular. "Sexyama" put a solid beating on Sadollah for three full rounds without slowing down, something very few people would've predicted.

According to Mike Goldberg and Brian Stann, Akiyama wants to make a run. If that's true, the UFC should put Akiyama with a top 25 fighter quickly, such as Ryan LaFlare. Should Akiyama just want to fight without worrying about the title, then he should fight someone like Brian Ebersole.

Sadollah has to be disappointed. Akiyama really had one way to win, but Sadollah could do nothing to stop it. However, Sadollah can't be upset that he did not have the conditioning edge -- few would expect Akiyama to finally fight like a well-conditioned fight this late in his career.

Having lost two bouts in a row for the first time in his career, Sadollah is not in a good position. It's likely that UFC matches him with a low-ranked Welterweight such as Seth Baczynski or a promotional newcomer.

At UFC Fight Night 52, Akiyama successfully returned to the welterweight division by utilizing his stifling top game. Can Akiyama make a run to the title at this point in his career?

For complete UFC Fight Night 52: "Hunt vs Nelson" results, including blow-by-blow coverage of the entire Fight Pass event, click here.

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