yoshihiro-akiyama-650x400A featured matchup on UFC Fight Night 79’s main card is a welterweight match-up between Japanese veteran Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama and Alberto “Soldier of God” Mina. Akiyama’s most recent fight was a dominant decision win over Amir Sadollah in September of 2014, which came after a two and a half year layoff. Mina, meanwhile, is an undefeated fighter that has not fought since an August 2014 knockout of Shinsho Anzai.   Yoshihiro Akiyama (14-5 (2 NC) MMA, 2-4 UFC, -160 favorite) “Sexyama” returns to the Octagon for only the second time in the last three and a half years. Akiyama is more celebrity than fighter these days, as he is a big actor and singer in his home country of Japan. After winning his UFC debut against Alan Belcher at UFC 100, he lost four straight fights from 2010 to 2012. Akiyama then took a two and a half year layoff, but returned to the cage last September and earned a dominant decision win over Amir Sadollah. Now 40 years old, it is tough to say how committed Akiyama is to the sport at this point of his career. Akiyama still possesses great core strength and power at the age of 40. The longtime Judo player is known for his great throws and trips in the clinch and suffocating top control. It is very hard for Akiyama’s opponents to get back to their feet once he establishes top position, as his base is very strong. Akiyama has focused more on maintaining position and throwing ground and pound than trying to pass and submit his opponents in recent years. That is not because he does not possess submission skills, as he does have seven submission wins in his career and has solid chokes and armlocks. On the feet, Akiyama is a counter puncher that has a decent jab and a powerful right hand that he times well. However, he does not throw many combinations and can be outworked by more active opponents. Further, Akiyama is quite hittable, especially at this stage of his career. Conditioning has also been an issue at times for the Japanese veteran, especially when he is forced to work for long periods. Akiyama is at his best when he can work at his own pace, which is quite slow.   Alberto Mina (11-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC, +140 underdog) If there is one thing that is certain, it is that Mina is an exciting fighter to watch. The undefeated Brazilian is a wildly aggressive fighter that has finished all of his opponents within three rounds. He has actually only been out of the first round twice in his 10 year career. However, there are some odd aspects of Mina’s career that cannot be ignored. First, he has only fought eleven times thus far. He is constantly either injured or taking a break from competition. Mina teaches jiu jitsu in Hong Kong, so his focus may be more on that than fighting. Further, his level of competition has been incredibly weak thus far. Akiyama, even at the age of 40, will be his toughest opponent to date by far. Mina’s UFC debut last year was a wild one round war against Shinsho Anzai that saw both opponents land huge shots and tire within a few minutes. Mina ultimately won the fight when he landed a massive uppercut at the end of the first round. The 33 year old has been practicing jiu jitsu and judo since he was five years old. He is now a third degree black belt in jiu jitsu, which is evident when you see some of his fights. As I mentioned, Mina is an extremely aggressive fighter. He throws everything except the kitchen sink on the feet, including flying knees, powerful uppercuts, hooks, and head kicks. While his technique is not great, he is very dangerous because he is willing to throw caution to the wind and take risks. Mina is at his best on the ground, as he has a tremendous submission game and is adept at taking his opponent’s back. He has a very sneaky guard and will chain submission attempts one after another. Since his wrestling is not great, Mina often attempts to pull guard or take his opponent’s back in transitions. He will even attempt flying scissor heel hooks just to get his opponent to defend it and allow him to gain top position. This all sounds great, but his style is not going to work against elite opposition like Akiyama. I am not sure exactly how committed Mina is to mixed martial arts at the moment.   Thoughts This is a weird, yet exciting fight. Any Alberto Mina fight is exciting, but Akiyama has a style that could potentially neutralize him in certain areas. As I mentioned, Mina has never been to a decision in his career and is wildly aggressive both on the feet and on the ground. Akiyama prefers to work at a much slower pace, so something has to give here. Akiyama can take advantage of Mina’s wild, unorthodox striking with his powerful counter punching. Further, Akiyama may have some success if he is able to stay in top position and keep Mina on his back. However, that comes with a lot of risk, as Mina is very dangerous on the ground. I am not sure what strategy Akiyama is going to employ in this fight, and that makes this fight a bit tougher to call. Mina is capable of landing a huge bomb on the feet or submitting Akiyama on the mat, but he is also just as likely to get caught himself. Additionally, both fighters’ commitment to the sport is questionable at this point. I will go with Akiyama to win as he has faced better competition and can have success with his counter punching and top control.   The Prediction: Yoshihiro Akiyama defeats Alberto Mina by knockout (round 2)


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