Yoshihiro “Sexy Yama” Akiyama cannot wait to step through the ropes and compete as a ONE Championship athlete for the first time on Saturday, 15 June.
The Japanese-Korean superstar will feature in the co-main event of ONE: LEGENDARY QUEST in a welterweight contest against Agilan “Alligator” Thani that promises to be action-packed from start to finish.
After decades at the ????, Japanese legend Yoshihiro Akiyama has finally arrived on the greatest stage of martial arts! ????: Shanghai | 15 June | 5PM | ONE: LEGENDARY QUEST????: Get your tickets at ???? http://bit.ly/onequest19????: Check local listings for global TV broadcast????: Watch on the ONE Super App ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp ????????: Prelims LIVE on Facebook | Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE on Twitter
Posted by ONE Championship on Thursday, May 30, 2019
Beyond that, he is delighted to work for an organization that has the same values and principles as he does.
The 43-year-old feels The Home Of Martial Arts is connected to the Japanese martial way of Budō, and that is a long way removed from some of the Western organizations he has been a part of in the past.
“I think it is an organization that values the fundamentals, such as manners, respect for your opponent, and greetings. These are things I learned through judo, and I think ONE Championship and I have a lot in common,” he explains.
“The value that is most important to me, although broad, is manners. Especially, greetings – saying ‘thank you’ to your opponents. It’s all a part of respect, but the words ‘thank you’ are very important to me.
“If I were to send Agilan Thani a message, it would be, ‘Thank you for fighting me.'”
Despite his honorable approach to his assignment, he is still under no illusions he will have to bring his trademark aggressive style of combat to the Baoshan Arena to tackle a hungry opponent who is 20 years his junior.
Two-sport ONE World Champion Stamp Fairtex defends her ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Title against Australia's hottest striking sensation, Alma Juniku! Plus, the ONE debut of martial arts superstar Yoshihiro "Sexy Yama" Akiyama!
???? 15 JUNE IN SHANGHAI! ???? Two-sport ONE World Champion Stamp Fairtex defends her ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Title against Australia's hottest striking sensation, Alma Juniku! Plus, the ONE debut of martial arts superstar Yoshihiro "Sexy Yama" Akiyama!????: Shanghai | 15 June | 5PM | ONE: LEGENDARY QUEST????: Get your tickets at ???? http://bit.ly/onequest19????: Check local listings for global TV broadcast????: Watch on the ONE Super App ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp ????????: Prelims LIVE on Facebook | Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE on Twitter
Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, May 27, 2019
Akiyama is known as a grappling specialist thanks to his elite judo skills, but he is not afraid to stand in the pocket and go toe-to-toe with his opponents.
Against “Alligator,” he expects he will have to draw on all aspects of his skill set to get his hand raised.
“What I know about Agilan Thani is that he is young, good at striking, and good at wrestling,” the 43-year-old says.
“I think he is a tough fighter. I’ve been able to watch all his fights through the ONE Championship website and study him.”
Akiyama became beloved around the martial arts world over the past two decades for his charisma outside the ring, and fearless approach inside it.
The K-1 HERO’S Grand Prix Champion is renowned for taking any challenge and, win or lose, giving 100 percent in every match-up.
Check out the guns on new ONE superstar Yoshihiro Akiyama! ????Download the ONE Super App now ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp
Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, December 1, 2018
However, ahead of his date with Thani, he admits that he feels some apprehension about making his bow on the global stage.
“I am full of worry. I am worried about if I will be able to fight, or if I will be able to give a good performance for the viewers,” he says
“It’s also been a while [since I competed], and there is a big age difference between me and my opponent. I’m worried about being able to fight my opponent with respect.”
These negative feelings soon give way to thoughts of determination when the Team Cloud representative remembers the lessons from his youth, and the reasons why he joined the world’s largest martial arts organization.
“The reason I wanted to participate in ONE Championship is because of my strong desire to challenge myself with new things,” he says.
“My dad told me to challenge myself, and with that in mind, I decided to participate in ONE Championship.”
His confidence also shines through when he discusses his game plan.
As well as having a ton of heart, Akiyama is a cerebral athlete, and he will arrive in Shanghai having spent hours analyzing and strategizing with his team.
Combined with his relentless work ethic and dedication to conditioning, “Sexy Yama” believes he will have the perfect path to victory – whatever approach his opponent takes.
“My current strategy for my fight against Agilan Thani, since he is an aggressive fighter that comes in for the takedown, is to use my judo experience to throw and block my opponent. That’s one area I’m not concerned about,” he says.
“Because I have Judo experience and he has wrestling experience, I think there’s a big chance most of the fight will take place on the ground, and come down to strikes.
“If Agilan Thani tries to keep the fight upright on the feet, I plan to attack with a mix of striking and ground work.”