Originally scheduled to fight Nico Musoke in Sweden, TUF 7 winner Amir Sadollah will instead face Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC Fight Night 52 in Saitama, Japan. Akiyama’s original opponent, Kyle Noke, was pulled from the fight due to injury, and rumours suggest that the returning Ben Saunders will take Saddolah’s place against Musoke.
Amir Sadollah hasn’t fought since September 2012, losing a decision to Dan Hardy in Nottingham, England. Prior to that bout, Sadollah won three of his last four, and his professional career has been spent inside the Octagon. Going 6-4, the now-welterweight defeated middleweight contender CB Dollaway for the TUF 7 crown back in 2008, getting an armbar just three minutes into the first round.
Sadollah was expected to return against welterweight prospect Stephen Thompson at UFC 160, though suffered an injury in training and was replaced by Nah-Shon Burrell, and the 33 year-old has since used the time to recover from niggling injuries. Now, Sadollah will face off against one of the most popular figures in Japanese MMA in the form of Yoshihiro Akiyama.
While Akiyama has only managed a 1-4 record inside the Octagon, losing four straight, he has been in three Fight of the Night contests and cemented his place as one of the most entertaining fighters on the roster. One of the most marketable Japanese fighters around, Akiyama makes his first Octagon appearance since a decision loss at UFC 144, also in Japan. While the 2-and-a-half year lay-off may affect Akiyama, the fact that Sadollah is also coming off a long lay-off begs the question of which fighter can adjust quicker.
Yoshihiro Akiyama joined the UFC with a big reputation, defeating the likes of Melvin Manhoef and Denis Kang, and – while it was a close fight – put on a great display in his debut against Alan Belcher. Looking for his first win since 2009 and his first in the welterweight division, the Judo expert will look to make a statement against Amir Sadollah.
UFC Fight Night 52 is headlined by a heavyweight clash between Mark Hunt and Roy Nelson on September 20, and will be held at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.