UFC 144 took place Saturday, February 25, in Tokyo, Japan. The card featured a welterweight fight between Jake Shields and Yoshihiro Akiyama.
Shields had been struggling since his inception into the UFC, losing back to back matches against Jake Ellenberger and Georges St. Pierre. His only victory was a fight that went the distance against Martin Kampmann.
Akiyama was struggling in his UFC career as well. He had just dropped down to welterweight to face Shields, and had lost 3 straight matches as a middleweight to Chris Leben, Michael Bisping, and Vitor Belfort. Now it was time to see how he would fare in his first welterweight fight.
Round 1: Both fighters come out to the center of the Octagon and start the feeling out process. Shields starts throwing light feeler jabs and Akiyama does the same. They circle each other throwing attempted jabs but neither lands. Shields drops down and gets one of Akiyama’s legs trying for a takedown. Akiyama shows good takedown defense and Shields is unable to complete. They go back to the center and face off again. Akiyama is the aggressor, pushing Shields back toward the cage. Shields tries another takedown but is easily stuffed by Akiyama.
They face off again and Akiyama measures the distance, then comes in and lands a strong uppercut. Shields dives for a leg again and manages to get Akiyama down for just a second. Shields presses Akiyama against the cage and works for the takedown. Akiyama defends it once again and they face off again. They both trade punches and kicks toward the center, neither one landing anything hard. Akiyama gets Shields down for just one second but Shields is able to pop right back up. The round ends in the center with both fighters trading attempted shots.
Round 2: Both fighters come to the center once again, but this time they are working harder than in the first round. Akiyama lands a solid right hand. They face off again, with Shields pushing for constant takedowns. Akiyama is defending well while throwing punches. This round is more intense with more action coming from both fighters. Shields tries another takedown but is unsuccessful. Shields seems to be the more aggressive fighter but is not landing anything damaging.
Both fighters are starting to look weary toward the last 2 minutes of the round, but they continue pushing forward. Akiyama grabs Shields and trips him over sideways for a powerful takedown. Shields is able to get right back up and starts throwing multiple punches to Akiyama’s head. Shields drops down again and grabs Akiyama’s legs looking for another takedown. Akiyama is defending well once again. Shields is unable to complete the takedown as the round ends.
Round 3: They meet in the center once again, trading punches and kicks. Neither one is landing anything significant, but the action is steady. Shields is throwing a ton of kicks to the body and to the legs. Akiyama is throwing jabs and lands a few punches here and there. Shields tries yet another takedown, but Akiyama flips him around and put his back against the cage. They separate and go back to the center. Shields tries another takedown and gets him down for just a second. He presses Akiyama up against the cage, working for another takedown.
Akiyama flips it around and puts Shields on the cage. The ref separates the two and they face off in the center. Shields finally takes Akiyama down and immediately takes his back. Shields tries to drag him down but Akiyama grabs the fence to prevent it. The ref warns him, but he grabs it again right in the ref’s face. He lets go and Shields continues to work him down to the ground while still having his back.
There’s only 30 seconds left in the fight when Shields gets the hooks in. They both roll over to their backs and Shields starts attacking with chokes. Akiyama defends and rolls over. Shields follows trying to keep the back mount. Akiyama continues to defend with only seconds left, then the round ends.
After deliberating, the judges give the decision to Jake Shields, who defeats Yoshihiro Akiyama by unanimous decision.