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UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones

MMA Fighting Matchups

Nate "The Great" Marquardt (-240) vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama (+280)

by Geoff Mackay
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UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones
March 19, 2011
Nate Marquardt vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama
UFC Betting Pick: Nate Marquardt (-240)

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Middleweight bout: Nate "The Great" Marquardt (-240) vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama (+280)

I have said it before and I will say it again but Japanese fighters just do not have what it takes to make it in the UFC. They come into the octagon with a lot of hype but unfortunately cannot deliver.

Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama (13-3) is another in the long line of Japanese fighters who have not performed well in the UFC. Though he has only three loses in his mixed martial arts career, two of them came in the UFC—Michael Bisping at UFC 120: Bisping vs. Akiyama and Chris Leben at UFC 116: Lesnar vs. Carwin. Akiyama came into the UFC as a fighter that was to become an eventual contender for the middleweight title, however, several mediocre performances have discounted this. If Akiyama was unable to beat Leben, it is unlikely he will be able to take a top five middleweight in Nate “The Great” Marquardt (30-10).

I suspect the biggest reasons as to why Japanese fighters do not do well in the UFC is because of their slighter frame and the fact that they do not cut weight—Akiyama is no exception and will be the smaller fighter this time as well. Marquardt is a big middleweight and will pose considerable problems for Akiyama—Marquardt has the height, bulk and reach, not to mention the striking, grappling and wrestling advantage in this one.

Marquardt is one of the most talented middleweights on the ground with a great top and bottom ground game. He has very active hips and is very dynamic—always seeking out submissions. Marquardt is a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Ricardo Murgel and a second Degree Black Belt in Pancrase Mixed Martial Arts/Jiu-Jitsu. Of his 30 MMA fights he has won 15 and loss two by submission.

As Marquardt is the bigger and stronger cage warrior in this bout, once he gets Akiyama on the ground he should be able to control him with his size alone—his skill set being added insurance. Akiyama is also a fairly decent submission fighter, however, his background is in judo and unfortunately judo is not as practical as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when it comes to mixed martial arts—judo utilizes grips and grabs of the gi and in MMA there is no gi.

The bulk of judo is stand up combat with very little on the ground so a jiu-jitsu practitioner can typically dominate a judo fighter as jiu-jitsu tends to have a much tighter base and more submission moves. Akiyama has already fallen to decent grapplers such as Rousimar Palhares, Demian Maia, Wilson Gouveia, Jeremy Horn, Dean Lister and Joe Doerksen so it will be no surprise if Marquardt is added to this list.

Hailing from Jackson's Submission Fighting Marquardt has the definite advantage here. Not only will Marquardt come into this fight better prepared and with a Greg Jackson game plan, wresting is a big part of the regiment at Jackson's Submission Fighting—something of which Akiyama does not have any exposure to. Not only does Marquardt work with the renowned Jackson, he regularly mixes it up with fellow cage warriors Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Rashad Evans, Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez and Melvin Guillard. And as if that is not enough Marquardt also rolls with the likes of Shane Carwin, Brendan Schaub, Muhammed Lawal, Duane Ludwig, Paul Buentello and Donald Cerrone at the Grudge Training Center.    

If this fight gets into a clinch I do not see Akiyama changing his game and stopping his attempts at a shoot in. Akiyama may be able to use his judo to get Marquardt down but Marquardt is a much better grappler, so any way we look at it, Akiyama will be beat.

Nevertheless, I believe this fight will most likely remain standing. Akiyama is decent in the standup with a nice mix of true technique and brawler-like moves. He is considered to have one of the best chins in MMA and can take a punch.

I do not think Marquardt can KO Akiyama but should be able to land a few for some points. Akiyama is the type of fighter that will never concede but who tends to give up too many points especially when toe to toe. Marquardt will be able to use his reach to hit Akiyama and though he may not be able to down him, Akiyama will be sorely outmatched when it comes to power behind the punch.

Bottom Line: I do not see Akiyama having any advantage in this fight. He is a game fighter and will fight to the very end but will be out classed and out matched in every skill set.

When it comes to UFC betting I think the sportsbook odds makers are being too generous—having Marquardt as a -240 money line favorite is a steal. If it were my call, I would have set the lines at -300.

I see Marquardt standing on the outside and landing his jabs over and over again. He will than use kicks to further soften up Akiyama before setting up for the takedown.

Once Marquardt gains top position he will be able to control Akiyama to ground and pound him out.

Look for Marquardt to KO Akiyama in the Second Round with a Ground and Pound Victory

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