After a torrid opening stanza, “Sexyama” finished the legendary grappler via TKO in the second round of their lightweight showdown at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Saturday, 26 March.
Aoki raced out of the blocks after the opening bell and pushed his rival to the Circle Wall with an attempted single-leg takedown. But then, he quickly jumped onto his foe’s back.
The submission specialist tried to cinch up a neck crank or rear-naked choke from there, but Akiyama’s fighting spirit denied him the space to do so – and this struggle lasted for the remainder of the round.
The start of the second frame encapsulated the drastic turnaround for “Sexyama,” as he fended off Aoki’s initial offense and landed a sharp right hand. “Tobikan Judan” tried to push forward again, but Akiyama was more prepared this time and shook his man off against the Circle Wall.
The Japanese-Korean star’s confidence grew from there, and he blasted his foe with hard right hands. Aoki drained rapidly under his rival’s attack and dropped to his knees when he couldn’t secure a clinch.
Akiyama saw that as a cue to unleash his finishing salvo of knees and punches, and it wasn’t long before the referee stepped in to wave off the bout.
The dramatic come-from-behind win over the #3-ranked lightweight contender pushed Akiyama’s record to 16-7 (2 NC) and immediately put him among the upper echelon of the stacked division – an amazing feat for the 46-year-old superstar.