Where is Yoshihiro Akiyama?

By Kevin Davidson
Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

I am a sucker for traditional martial arts techniques getting used in the UFC. Whether they are tae-kwon do kicks, or Lyoto Machida’s karate-based striking, I get goosebumps when a modern fighter decides to throw a guy through a loop and throw a traditional strike.

None of the techniques make me happier than a judo throw. It is one of the earliest forms of martial arts and has stood the test of time. Thanks to fighters like Ronda Rousey, it is finally starting to get some love. But before Rousey was a household name, there was Yoshihiro Akiyama.

Akiyama was a judo specialist who loved getting into a brawl. His fights with Michael Bisping, Chris Leben and Alan Belcher are amazing. Those three fights were serious slugfests, and while he lost all of them, he showed more heart than half of the guys in the UFC and never stopped swinging.

Even though those fights are fun to watch, Akiyama’s bout with Jake Shields is my all-time favorite of his. In that bout, Akiyama was able to use two gorgeous judo throws that sent Shields flying through the air. It was awesome to see a smaller guy throw a wrestler around for once.

The weird thing is that Akiyama has not fought since then, and that was almost two years ago. He is still on the official UFC roster but there has been little news on him fighting. Maybe he is too busy doing media in his home country, or maybe he is trying to find his love of fighting again. Wherever he is, I hope he gets another fight, and win or lose, I hope he throws someone into the air one more time.

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