Japanese middleweight Yoshihiro Akiyama is apparently not responding well to the news that his originally scheduled opponent, Wanderlei Silva, has been forced out of their bout with injuries and has been replaced by Chris Leben. Fighters Only picked up the story off of Korean MMA website Daum.net and according to the blog post it seems as though Akiyama is so disappointed at the prospect of not fighting Silva and so unimpressed with Leben that he is considering pulling out of the fight altogether.
“I am not pleased with the change,” said the Judo player. “There are just ten days left until the contest for me to determine [Leben’s] threats and the time is insufficient to establish a tailored gameplan. Leben is also not as high-profile as [Wanderlei] Silva and that does not help me.”
Seeing Akiyama’s level of motivation to take on Silva makes it that much more unfortunate that their fight has been scrapped as Silva shared his motivation and together they would have surely put on a memorable performance. Now it looks as though Akiyama may not compete at all on the UFC 116 card, something he attributes to his lack of motivation to face Leben.
“If there is to be a replacement I was hoping for a big name,” said Akiyama. “I spent one year preparing hard for this fight and this news has come as a big disappointment, my motivation has waned. I do not know yet what will happen. .. In the worst case, I will not take part in the [UFC 116] event. We are working hard to resolve this issue.”
If Akiyama does compete, he will do so in the co-main event of UFC 116 which will be headlined by Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin’s heavyweight title unification bout and will take place next Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.