Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight talents Yoshihiro Akiyama and Alberto Mina will throw down this Saturday (Nov. 28, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 79 inside Olympic Gymnastics Arena in Seoul, South Korea.
After losing four straight fights to some admittedly stellar competition, Akiyama took several years off to recover from injuries. He made a successful return in 2014 before taking another year off, as Akiyama is now looking to re-emerge after another 14 months on the bench.
Mina made his debut last Summer, winning a wild brawl via first round knockout. The Brazilian has finished each of his victories and will look to make a name for himself at his opponent's expense on Saturday.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for each fighter:
Key Wins: Alan Belcher (UFC 100), Amir Sadollah (UFC Fight Night 52)
Key Losses: Jake Shields (UFC 144), Vitor Belfort (UFC 133), Michael Bisping (UFC 120)
Keys to Victory: Akiyama is an expert Judoka and powerful puncher. Though the holes in his game kept him from beating elite opposition, Akiyama's dangerous offense and moments of brilliance earned him a few quality victories ... as well as 12 finishes.
In this bout, Akiyama needs to outlast his opponent. Mina fights rather recklessly, hurling dangerous strikes, takedowns and submissions toward his opponent with little regard to his conditioning.
It's no mistake that Mina has finished each and every one of his opponents.
Now, telling a fighter in his 40s to rely on his conditioning is a bit strange, but it makes sense for Akiyama. The Japanese combatant can use his Judo to counter his opponent's offense and land him in top position. While he'll have to be wary of his opponent's submission hold from his back, Akiyama is a talented submission fighter.
Once his opponent gets tired, Akiyama can work toward a finish in whatever fashion he pleases. That said, he'll likely have better success hunting for the knockout, as Mina's defense largely evaporates when he gets tired and wild.
Key Wins: Shinsho Anzai (UFC Fight Night 48)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Mina is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Judo black belt with knockout power. While in the cage, his entire focus is on offense, as Mina pushes forth every bit of his skill and aggression to secure a quick finish.
Seeing as how he's won nine of his fights in the opening round, it's worked for him thus far.
Considering Mina's Judo background, there's a decent chance that he'll be able to resist his opponent's takedown attempts. In that situation, Mina's balls-to-the-wall strategy wouldn't be such a bad thing, as Akiyama is far from a defense-first fighter himself.
Simply put, both men are there to be hit.
However, I'd like to see Mina add just a bit of method to his madness. If he's able to threaten Akiyama with his swarming, he should back away momentarily and attack with his rangy kicks. As the longer fighter, he'll be in great position to counter if Akiyama feels pressured to close the distance.
In that situation, one of the many front kicks or jump knees that Mina throws could be the perfect weapon.
Bottom Line: While this fight has no real effect on the division, it should be a fun match that shows where Akiyama and Mina are headed from here.
As mentioned, Akiyama is getting up there in age and has been fighting rather infrequently. That's rarely a good sign, but he still performed fairly well opposite Sadollah, so who can argue? Akiyama's not in need of money, so he has to be self-motivated to still be competing, and the lengthy rest periods could be just what he needs to keep the fire burning.
If Akiyama wins, his once-every-year-or-so schedule will probably continue, same is if he were to lose. However, if Akiyama is brutally beaten down or finished, this could be the last time we see "Sexyama" inside the Octagon.
At 33 years of age, Mina most likely isn't going to suddenly become a contender, either. However, a win here could make him a notable action fighter, as he certainly goes for it. Defeating a name fighter like Akiyama would also help him get more fights, as he's been rather inactive as well.
On the other hand, a loss probably won't earn Mina his pink slip, but it certainly won't help his job security, either.
At UFC Fight Night 78, Yoshihiro Akiyama and Alberto Mina will go to war. Which fighter will have his hand raised?