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Yoshihiro Akiyama officially announced to participate in the UFC

GBR posted about the press conference of Yoshihiro Akiyama in Tokyo on March 3rd.

In the conference, Akiyama said: "I decided to fight in the UFC which was a "major league" in MMA. I'm honor to get the opportunity to challenge in such a big event. I'm not sure whether or not I can succeed; however, I believe myself that I have a chance to get to the top. Theme of my life is to keep challenging and advancing. I hope many people are encouraged to see me in the UFC. I believe this is another way to put enthusiasm into Japanese MMA. I hope everyone supports me."

Akiyama answered questions from the press:

- When did you start thinking about fighting in the UFC?
My contract with FEG expired last November, so I decided to take my time and think what I wanted to do in my life next. At that time, I wasn't thinking about the UFC. I gradually started to be interested in and went to watch the UFC event in Las Vegas last December. I made up my mind and was offered in January. It took a while to contract because of the translation process. I signed up on the contract right before Dana White announced.

- Who did you talk about your decision with?
I asked Yushin Okami and Caol Uno about the UFC. FEG called me and congratulated me. I thanked FEG for everything they offered me because they gave me a chance and brought up in K-1. I also told them that I would like to come back someday.

- How did you like fighting in Japan for last 4 years?
My experience in Japan is a great asset. As a result of fighting in Japan, I could get this opportunity. I feel nervous more than I'm excited about fighting in the UFC.

- Tell me about your contract.
I will debut in July or August and my contract is 6 fights. When offered, I thought Dana White was interested in me because he planed to expand his business in Japan and Korea.?Aside from his real intention, I am glad if I can attract more Japanese and Korean to MMA. That would be great if I can fight in Japan and Korea as a UFC fighter.

- Do you think the UFC has better fighters than Japan?
There are top class fighters in Japan for sure. Although, the fighting style of UFC fighters are more advanced , and the atmosphere of the event is much better. I don't know all fighters in my weight class, yet I consider I have to train hard to win.

- Are you thinking about training in the US?
Yes. I will probably change my fighting style to survive in the UFC.

- You fight in the middleweight. Didn't you consider going down to the welterweight?
I thought about that, but I decided to stay in the middleweight because I had no confidence of losing more than 10kg.

- Did you think about contracting with other MMA promoters?
I thought about talking to WVR because I wanted to fight Hidehiko Yoshida and Kazuo Misaki. However, I didn't contact them, for I was more attracted to fight outside of Japan.

- You fight in the same weight class with Yushin Okami.
I'm not ready to challenge him yet. We train together, and I will learn a lot from him. I'm also interested in training with GSP and BJ Penn.

- Do you have any fighter you want to face?
I want to fight a champion someday. I dream about challenging Okami when he becomes a champion. If Wanderlei Silva comes down to the middleweight, I want to fight him.

He will be introduced at UFC 97 on April 18 in Montreal, Canada. He publishes an autography in March and is currently working to open his dojo in Tokyo.