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Akiyama Yoshihiro (born July 29, 1975 in Osaka, Japan), also known as Choo Sung-hoon, is a Japanese mixed martial artist and judoka of South Korean heritage. He won gold at the 2001 Asian Championships and 2002 Asian Games for South Korea and Japan respectively. As a mixed martial artist he became the 2006 K-1 HERO'S Light Heavyweight tournament champion. Akiyama is currently ranked as the number 8 middleweight in the world by MMA Weekly. He is currently with the US promotion Ultimate Fighting Championship and was victorious in his first UFC bout against Alan Belcher at UFC 100. He is a fourth-generation Korean Japanese but acquired Japanese nationality in 2001.

Judo careerEdit

Before his mixed martial arts career, Akiyama was a decorated judoka.[1]

Judo competition recordEdit

Notable Accomplishments/Titles (judo)
All-Japan Collegiate Separate Weight Divisions 2nd Place 1996
All-Japan Industry Judo Singles 81 kg Champion 2001
Kodokan Cup Japan Judo Championship 81 kg Champion 2001
Japan International Judo Tournament 81 kg Champion 2002
Paris International Judo Tournament 81 kg Champion 2002
Asian Games Judo 81 kg Champion 2002 (in Busan)
All-Japan Invitational Judo Championship Separate Weight Divisions 81 kg Champion 2003
World Judo Championship 81 kg Japan Representative 2003

2002 Asian GamesEdit

Representing Japan, Akiyama won the Gold Medal at the 2002 Asian Games defeating Ahn Dong-Jin of South Korea in the finals.[2]

2003 World Judo Championships ControversyEdit

Akiyama defeated three opponents from France, Mongolia, and Turkey to reach the semi-finals of the 81 kg Light Middleweight division. However, all three opponents claimed that Akiyama had a slippery judogi. Wearing a reserve gi, Akiyama lost two games in a row (semifinal and 3rd-place match) and missed the medal.[3][4]

International Judo Federation referee director Juan Carlos Barcos said an examination of the gi found that the slippery texture was due to high humidity which prevailed in Osaka and a detergent used to wash the uniform. "At any moment, we did not have any doubt about fair play in the case. We are absolutely sure that Mr. Akiyama is correct," since he changed the jacket at the request of the jury, Barcos said.

Akiyama was also accused of wearing slippery gear by former world and Olympic champion Kenzo Nakamura when they fought at the world championship trials in 2002.[5]

MMA careerEdit

K-1 HERO'SEdit

Akiyama's mixed martial arts debut was in the K-1 Premium 2004 Dynamite event on December 31, 2004, where he defeated boxer Francois Botha by armbar submission in the first round. His only defeat has been to Jerome LeBanner, who knocked him out with knees in his second fight at the K-1 HERO'S 1 event on March 26, 2005, while it should be noted that LeBanner is a heavyweight that came into the fight at 262 pounds (119 kg), while Akiyama came into the fight at 189.5 pounds (86 kg).[6] He has notable wins against Tokimitsu Ishizawa, Taiei Kin, Kestutis Smirnovas and Melvin Manhoef. Akiyama defeated Melvin Manhoef at the K-1 Hero's light-heavyweight Grand Prix 2006 final round, and gained the champion belt.

In K-1 Premium 2006 Dynamite, Akiyama fought Kazushi Sakuraba in the main event. During the match, Sakuraba called to the referee saying "[Akiayama is] Slippery!" Akiayama went on to win the match with a referee stoppage. This created a controversy amongst MMA fans in Japan, assuming Akiyama was using some sort of body oil or lubricant, banned in K-1 rules.

But at this moment, Akiyama answered to questions about the oil in the interview as follows: "I have no idea why Sakuraba felt slippery. It may be my sweat, as I sweat a lot always and it often drips off my body."

On January 11, Akiyama and FEG (the parent company of K-1) held a press conference during which Akiyama said he used Olay lotion prior to the fight claiming that the lotion was used to treat a worn gi.[7] Pre-fight footage also showed Akiyama casually applying six bottles of lotion to his body in his locker room. As a result, Akiyama was disqualified and his prize money was suspended. Akiyama himself was suspended indefinitely from HERO'S competition six days later.[8] Public outcry against Akiyama did not cease however, and Nike was swamped with complaints when Akiyama was featured on a television commercial in Japan.[9] Though Akiyama has admitted to applying cream to his skin, he has said that the purpose was not to gain an unfair advantage but to treat his dry skin. The fight was ruled a "No Contest".

Akiyama was cleared from his FEG-induced suspension and FEG announced that Akiyama would return to K-1 Hero's in Seoul, on October 28, 2007. His opponent was Denis Kang, who was the finalist of PRIDE Bushido Grand Prix 2006 and making his debut in HERO'S. Though he was an underdog, Akiyama beat Kang by KO in the first round.

Yarennoka Fight Edit

On December 31, 2007, Akiyama faced Kazuo Misaki at Yarennoka!. The rules of the match stated that kicks to the head of a downed opponent would not be allowed.[10] Late in the first round Misaki knocked down Akiyama with left hook, and as Akiyama struggled to his feet, Misaki delivered a lunging kick to the face which knocked Akiyama out.[10] The match was ruled a knockout victory for Misaki, but Akiyama contended that one or both of his hands were on the mat at the time of the kick, which would make the kick a foul under the Yarennoka! rules.[10] After reviewing video of the knockout, the Yarennoka! executive committee agreed; the official result was changed to a no contest.[11]

Joining the UFCEdit

On February 24, 2009 it was announced on the official UFC website that Akiyama had signed a deal with the company. Even though he suffered a broken orbital bone during the start of round two, Akiyama went on to beat UFC veteran Alan Belcher at UFC 100 on July 11 by split decision.[12] It was the 1st fight in Akiyama's career that went to an decision & it was awarded "Fight of the Night" honors with both fighters receiving a record-setting $100,000 bonus. Akiyama joined Xtreme Couture for the month of October 2009 to work on his striking skills. As he realized American Fighters' techniques were much better than he anticipated.

Akiyama was expected to face MMA legend and former PRIDE Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva on February 21, 2010 at UFC 110[13], but Silva instead faced British striker Michael Bisping on the card. Silva later defeated Bisping via unanimous decision.[14] At the Post-fight conference, UFC President Dana White stated that Akiyama had requested to fight Silva for awhile and has refused to fight other opponents, after which both fighters verbally agreed to fight.[15]

Akiyama is now expected to face Wanderlei Silva at UFC 116.[16]

Personal LifeEdit

Akiyama recently married Shiho Yano, a famous Japanese model, whom he had been dating since January 2007. He names heavyweight champion boxer Mike Tyson as his hero and holds a University degree in Commerce.[17]

MMA competition record Edit

Record Result Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Brazil flag Wanderlei Silva UFC 116 2010-07-03 United States flag Las Vegas, US
13–1–0(2) Win United States flag Alan Belcher Decision (Split) UFC 100 2009-07-11 3 5:00 United States flag Las Vegas, US UFC debut, Won Fight of the Night Award.
12–1–0(2) Win Japan flag Masanori Tonooka Submission (Armbar) DREAM 6: Middleweight Grand-Prix Finals 2008-09-23 1 5:00 Japan flag Saitama, Japan
11–1–0(2) Win Japan flag Katsuyori Shibata Submission (Gi Choke) DREAM 5: Lightweight Grand-Prix Finals 2008-07-21 1 6:34 Japan flag Osaka, Japan
10–1–0(2) NC Japan flag Kazuo Misaki No Contest (result overturned) Yarennoka! 2007-12-31 1 7:48 Japan flag Saitama, Japan The original result of this fight was a "KO" victory for Misaki via head kick. The match was later ruled a "no contest" when it was determined the knockout kick was illegal.
10–1–0(1) Win Canada flag Denis Kang KO (Punch) K-1 Hero's Korea 2007 2007-10-28 1 4:45 South Korea flag Seoul, South Korea
9–1–0(1) NC Japan flag Kazushi Sakuraba No Contest (result overturned) K-1 Hero's Premium Dynamite 2006!! 2006-12-31 1 5:37 Japan flag Osaka, Japan Originally ruled a TKO, the results were ruled no contest after Akiyama confessed to applying lotion after showering for the fight.
9–1 Win Netherlands flag Melvin Manhoef Submission (Armbar) K-1 Hero's 7 Light Heavyweight & Middleweight Tournament Final 2006-10-09 1 1:58 Japan flag Yokohama, Japan Won K-1 HERO's Light Heavyweight Tournament
8–1 Win Lithuania flag Kestutis Smirnovas TKO (Strikes) K-1 Hero's 7 Light Heavyweight & Middleweight Tournament Final 2006-10-09 1 3:01 Japan flag Yokohama, Japan
7–1 Win Japan flag Taiei Kin Submission (Armbar) K-1 Hero's 6 Light Heavyweight & Middleweight Opening Tournament 2006-08-05 1 2:01 Japan flag Tokyo, Japan
6–1 Win Japan flag Katsuhiko Nagata KO (Spinning Back Kick) K-1 Hero's 5 Middleweight Tournament Opening Round 2006-05-03 2 2:25 Japan flag Tokyo, Japan
5–1 Win Japan flag Tokimitsu Ishizawa Submission (Gi Choke) K-1 Hero's 4 2006-03-15 2 1:41 Japan flag Tokyo, Japan
4–1 Win Japan flag Masakatsu Okuda TKO (Slam and Punches) K-1 Hero's 2005 in Seoul 2005-11-05 1 3:31 South Korea flag Seoul, South Korea
3–1 Win United States flag Michael Lerma TKO (Punches) K-1 World MAX 2005 Champions' Challenge 2005-10-12 1 2:47 Japan flag Tokyo, Japan
2–1 Win Australia flag Carl Toomey Submission (Armbar) K-1 Hero's 2 2005-07-06 1 0:59 Japan flag Tokyo, Japan
1–1 Loss France flag Jerome LeBanner KO (Knees) K-1 Hero's 1 2005-03-26 1 2:24 Japan flag Saitama, Japan Le Banner fought at 262 lbs, while Akiyama fought at 189.5 lbs.
1–0 Win South Africa flag Francois Botha Submission (Armbar) K-1 PREMIUM 2004 Dynamite!! 2004-12-31 1 1:54 Japan flag Osaka, Japan

See alsoEdit


  1. fighter's profile - Yoshihiro Akiyama |
  3. 2003 Judo Championship official results [1], -81kg
  4. Taipei Times - archives
  5. Taipei Times, Japanese hail judo comeback despite slippery-jacket row, 13 September 2003
  7. Bout Review USA. K-1 Dynamite!! 'Akiyama Disqualified!'
  8. Sportsnavi article (in Japanese). 17 January 2007
  9. Advertising at
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Breen, Jordan (January 11, 2008). Akiyama Camp Protests Misaki's KO Kick. Retrieved on 2008-01-12.
  11. Akiyama-Misaki Ruled No Contest. (January 22, 2008). Retrieved on 2008-01-22.
  12. Yoshihiro Akiyama breaks his orbital bone at UFC 100. Retrieved on 2010-02-16.
  13. Wanderlei Silva confirms rumored UFC 110 headliner with Yoshihiro Akiyama in Australia. Archived from the original on 2012-07-18. Retrieved on 2009-10-16.
  17. Yoshihiro Akiyama. Retrieved on 2009-12-25.

External linksEdit

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