We reported earlier in the week that Jake Shields would be welcoming Yoshihiro Akiyama to the welterweight division in Japan, however at the time of our initial report, we did not know the bouts placement on the card.
Late last night, BJPENN.COM received an email from the Shields camp with confirmation that Shields vs. Akiyama will serve as the evening’s co-main event.
“As the first ever UFC fight in Japan under the Zuffa banner, I’m excited to be in the co-main event and to represent UFC and Team Jaco,” said Shields in the release. “This is my first trip back to Japan in over seven years, so to go back there and take on Akiyama is a great honor. He is going to be a fierce opponent, and I have no doubt this will be one of the best fights on the UFC 144 card.”
“UFC 144: Japan”, while not yet made official by the promotion, is expected to go down on February 26 live from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. As of current date, the event is expected to be headlined by a lightweight title fight between champion Frankie Edgar and challenger Benson Henderson.
Shields was last seen in action in a losing effort to Jake Ellenberger at the UFC’s Fight Night 25 dubbed “Battle on the Bayou”. The loss marked his second straight making his overall UFC record 1-2 with losses to the aforementioned Ellenberger and Georges St. Pierre. Prior to his two defeats Shields was considered the number two welterweight in the world and was riding high on a 15 fight win streak.
Akiyama is one of Japans biggest stars, a certified celebrity in his homeland Akiyama entered the UFC in 2009 after going undefeated in Mixed Martial Arts action for 4 straight years. Upon arrival into the world’s largest MMA promotion he has only been able to put together one win out of four fights and after dropping three straight in the middleweight division will try his luck at 170 pounds.
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