UFC.com announced this afternoon that Yoshihiro Akiyama has signed on with the UFC. There’s no word on who his first opponent will be, but he’s expected to step into the Octagon for the first time this summer.
This is a big move for the UFC because it not only bolsters their middleweight roster, but also helps Dana White’s eventual plan to take his business to Japan. Akiyama is the kind of fighter many Japanese fans (and Shinya Aoki) love to hate, partly because he is ethnically Korean and has been involved in one or two greasing scandals of his own. As the UFC gets more top Japanese fighters on its roster, especially ones the Japanese fans will pay to see in spite of themselves, it’s going to make things much easier when the UFC finally manages to schedule an event over there.
As Dana White is quoted as saying in the UFC.com story:
“I’m excited to bring Akiyama into the UFC and I can see him making an immediate impact in the middleweight division,” said UFC President Dana White. “Besides his great judo and submission game, he’s a finisher, and UFC fans are going to love watching him because he always shows up to fight.”
Word. But who will he fight this summer? And does ‘this summer’ mean UFC 99, 100, what? Oh, the questions. Fortunately the UFC is planning press conferences in both Japan and Korea to answer them in the coming days. Take that, Asian MMA market.