FIGHTING OUT OF:
One of the most popular fighters in Asia, highly regarded middleweight contender Yoshihiro Akiyama is about to begin his quest for world domination after signing an exclusive promotional contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Born of Korean descent in Osaka, Japan, Akiyama first made his name in the international sports world as a decorated black belt in judo who collected numerous titles, including. By 2004, Akiyama sought a new challenge in the world of MMA, and he made an immediate impact when he debuted with a first round win over former world heavyweight boxing champion Francois Botha. Over the next three years, Akiyama built a stellar reputation as one of the best fighters in the world, submitting Melvin Manhoef, knocking out Denis Kang, and engaging in battles with the likes of Kazushi Sakuraba and Kazuo Misaki.