With Chael Sonnen suspended by the UFC, Yoshihiro Akiyama will instead face middleweight contender Nate Marquardt at UFC 128 on March 19 in Newark, New Jersey, according to ESPN.
Marquardt (30-10-2) fell to Yushin Okami in November with a shot at the 185-pound title on the line after winning four of his last five, while Akiyama (13-3) has earned “Fight of the Night” honors in all three of his UFC bouts, but will be looking to rebound from back-to-back losses to Chris Leben and Michael Bisping.
The UFC 128 fight card is headlined by light heavyweight champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. former title-holder Rashad Evans and also includes Urijah Faber vs. Eddie Wineland.
I would've rather seen Maia-Akiyama. I love Judo-BJJ matchups. Nate is superior in almost every aspect of the fight game besides maybe trips. He'll take an easy decision or finish the fight if akiyama gasses. Sexyama needs to start hanging out with Okami and learn how to cut weight so he can get to 170.
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i like this fight way better than akiyama/sonnen. akiyama is coming off 2 losses while chael is coming off the most impressive performance of his career (albeit in a losing effort). marquardt on the other hand is coming off a less than stellar performance so this is the perfect opportunity for him to redeem himself. plus i think akiyama and marquardt's styles match up better. chael was just an overall bad match-up for akiyama.
if nate is smart, he'll brush up on that wrestling of his that we haven't seen in quite some time, but as a spectator, a stand-up battle would be oh so delightful. with that said, i'm going to go on a limb and say akiyama via split decision or even possibly 2nd round stoppage.