UFC middleweight fighter Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama will be looking to prove his horde of international supporters correct when he takes on Michael Bisping in the main event of this weekend’s UFC 120 event. The Japanese-Korean judoka spoke to MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani through his translator at the pre-fight workouts and discussed his mindset heading into this bout and his probable role as a bad guy in front of the British crowd, among other things.
“I’m highly motivated at the moment,” Akiyama said of his mental state. “I think I’m ready in many ways.”
Akiyama has fought his two UFC bouts, against Alan Belcher and Chris Leben(earning a split-decision over Belcher and losing to Leben via last-minute triangle choke), both on foreign territory. So it is that he tells Helwani he will be undeterred by the likely harsh welcome he will receive come fight night.
“I expect so,” said Akiyama when asked if he thinks he will be the bad guy against hometown boy Bisping. “I don’t mind, I get used to such a way.”
As far as what he expects out of Bisping, Akiyama said that he plans to engage in the kind of barnburner that fans have come to expect of him.
“It will be quite an exciting fight,” he said. “I’m sure the fans will be pleased.”
Akiyama has revamped his training camp for this bout with Bisping, joining up with Greg Jackson’s stable of top fighters and coaches to improve his overall game. Akiyama said that this is the precedent he has set for UFC career: to be constantly evolving; and he warned the fans to prepare themselves for his progress.
“I’m still learning and developing myself,” Akiyama said. “The fans haven’t seen anything yet.”
Akiyama and Bisping will square off at the O2 Arena tomorrow night and the fight will be aired Stateside via tape delay on the Spike TV network.