Middleweight bout: Michael Bisping vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama
Betting Pick: Michael Bisping
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The main event of the evening is a big Middleweight showdown between Ultimate Fighter winner Michael “The Count” Bisping and Japanese standout and former judo star Yoshihiro Akiyama. Bisping has had mixed results recently and Akiyama is coming off a tough loss to Chris Leben, but both guys are still top players in a Middleweight division that is wide open at the top, so this could be an important fight.
Bisping, who won The Ultimate Fighter with ease and then followed it up with successful stints at both Light Heavyweight and Middleweight, is a very well-rounded fighter. His kickboxing is very crisp and technical, although he is notoriously light on power, and he has good submissions and a dangerous ground and pound game to go along with it. While he doesn’t have any actual wrestling background, his wrestling has actually come a long way over the course of his career, and he has pretty decent takedowns and above-average takedown defense.
Akiyama, one of the biggest Japanese stars to appear in the UFC, was a very accomplished judo player before stepping into Mixed Martial Arts. Obviously some of that translates to his fighting, and so he has quality submissions and good takedowns, especially from the clinch. He also has technically sound boxing, although like Bisping he lacks too much punching power for his standup to be especially dangerous.
I think that, stylistically, this matchup favors Bisping. Akiyama has fairly solid boxing, but Bisping is much better on the feet. That, coupled with his underrated jiu-jitsu and solid takedown defense, should be enough to allow him to control the pace of the fight and earn the decision win.
Prediction: Michael “The Count” Bisping via unanimous decision.
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