The co-main event of UFC 116 is a middleweight contest featuring Yoshihiro Akiyama and Chris Leben.
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This bout was originally scheduled to be Akiyama against Wanderlei Silva, but a rib and knee injury to Silva forced him to pull out just a few weeks ago. Leben stepped up to fill in, despite competing in the octagon just a few weeks ago.
Akiyama enters the fight as the slight favorite with a betting line of -200 with Leben given a line of +185 according to online sports book SPORTSBETTING.com. Here is a closer look at both fighters heading into this main event bout, which will take place from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, beginning at 10PM ET live on pay-per-view.
Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-1):
Strengths: Akiyama is a big international sensation as he is a MMA and singing celebrity. He likes to show a little flash and grace with his fighting, which has led him to a 13-1 record with two no contests. His UFC debut came at UFC 100 when he won a split decision over Alan Belcher. The decision was heavily disputed as Belcher seems to dictate the fight more than Akiyama. Still, Akiyama is a solid all-around fighter and a black belt in judo.
Weaknesses: Akiyama needs to show a better performance against Leben than he did against Belcher. Akiyama is notorious for wanting to get in stand-up wars despite his grappling skills. In this fight, he should stick to his strengths and not look to exchange punches. Leben has a history of being submitted and Akiyama should use that to his advantage.
Last Five Fights:
First round submission win over Masanori Tonooka at Dream 6 on Sept. 23, 2008
First round submission win over Katsuyori Shibata at Dream 5 on July 21, 2008
No contest against Kazuo Misaki at Yarennoka on Dec. 31, 2007
First round KO win over Denis Kang at K-1 Hero’s on Oct. 28, 2007
Chris Leben (20-6):
Strengths: Leben is a strong striker that is also good in the clinch. A tough-minded fighter, it takes a lot to stop Leben and he always pushes forward. Despite his obvious weaknesses on the ground, Leben always has a chance to win a fight.
Weaknesses: Aside from his struggles with superior ground fighters, Leben is fresh off a win over Aaron Simpson at the Ultimate Fighter Finale on June 19. While Leben is in good shape, coming off a fight can be dangerous as his conditioning may have peaked and he still may have some bumps and bruises that haven’t healed. Taking a fight at less than 100 percent is a dangerous move for anyone.
Last Five Fights:
Second round TKO win over Aaron Simpson at Ultimate Fighter 11 Finale on June 19, 2010
Unanimous decision win over Jay Silva at UFC Fight Night 20 on Jan. 11, 2010
Third round submission loss to Jake Rosholt at UFC 102 on Aug. 29 2009
Unanimous decision loss to Michael Bisping at UFC 89 on Oct. 18, 2008
First round TKO win over Alessio Sakara at UFC 82 on March 1, 2008
Who will win: You have to give Leben some credit for taking this fight, but ultimately, he is walking into a bad situation. Akiyama is fresh and hungry for a decisive win in the UFC. Look for him to get Leben to the ground often and eventually score a submission by choke in the second round.
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Posted: 7/2/10 3:56PM ET