After losing for the first time in 14 matches over five years, Yoshihiro Akiyama
chose to add a new look to his preparation, working with famed MMA trainer and strategist Greg Jackson
The Japanese star recently spent time in Albuquerque, New Mexico, training his overall MMA game with the Jackson fight team while getting ready to face Michael Bisping
on Oct. 16 at UFC 120.
"I was able to learn the intricate skills of the takedown as well as better striking for MMA, and most of all, I was able to learn how to deliver a good three-round fight in the cage," Akiyama said through his interpreter during a UFC 120 conference call.
Jackson is best known for helping to guide the successful UFC careers of fighters Rashad Evans, Georges St. Pierre, Shane Carwin and Nate Marquardt, among others.
In Akiyama's most recent fight at UFC 116 in July, he was supposed to face Wanderlei Silva, but two weeks before the bout, Silva pulled out with fractured ribs.
Akiyama (13-2, two no contests) eventually faced off with Chris Leben and was tapped out with a third-round triangle choke in a thrilling conclusion. In retrospect, Akiyama feels that the short preparation time for Leben hurt his chances of victory.
"I felt like I didn't have enough time to prepare for my opponent," he said. "And so during the fight I wasn't able to come up with a strategy that was specifically for Chris Leben."
While Akiyama unsurprisingly kept his Team Jackson inspired game plan under wraps, he did note as his best advantage that he has better takedowns than Bisping. Interestingly, he recently noted that he'd abanonded his judo training in favor of MMA-specific prep work.
In addition, Akiyama noted that he's gotten himself more acquainted with the UFC's fighting arena after spending most of his career fighting in rings.
"I feel like over the past two fights I have acclimated to the fighting style of the cage," he said. "To me, the win [over Alan Belcher at UFC 100] and the loss are both very important keys in what affect my fighting style, so both fights have been very good for me."
Meanwhile, his opponent Bisping says he doesn't care who Akiyama is training with or how he's training, and that neither will affect his plans to dictate the action and author the outcome of the fight.
"With respect, I couldn't care less who he's training with," Bisping said. "He could train with anyone. I'm focused on what I do, on my training. He can worry about what I bring to the table. My training's gone fantastic, I feel in great shape. I've improved all my areas. Regardless of who he's training with, I think I'll be too much for him."