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Yoshihiro Akiyama plans to fight until he’s 50, wants to challenge for ONE Championship title

Yoshihiro Akiyama isn’t done with MMA, not by a long shot.

This past weekend, “Sexyama” fought for the first time in over two years when he faced Shinya Aoki at ONE X. The bout was a grudge match, one Aoki had tried to book for years. But unfortunately for the submission ace, he bit off more than he could chew – Akiyama overcame a tough first round to stop him in the second.

For Akiyama, the win was among the biggest of his career, and it motivated him to keep going.

“For myself, this fight, in terms of all of my athletic career and in MMA, it’s the big milestone,” Akiyama said through a translator on The MMA Hour. “That’s because I think this fight was able to put a spotlight to Japan.”

Akiyama is one of the more beloved figures in MMA. The decorated judoka was a fan favorite in K-1 and DREAM before making his UFC debut in 2009. He had a rough stint in the the organization, only managing a 2-5 record before his exit. After a hiatus, he signed with ONE Championship in 2019 and has amassed a 2-1 record at 46.

“Sexyama” believes he still has plenty to give to the MMA world.

“I will definitely go until I’m 50,” Akiyama said. “That is my current goal, depending on my physical [ability]. If you calculate twice a year, I have four years left in me, so that’s more than eight [fights].”

And Akiyama has big goals for those remaining fights. Although he said he had difficulty making weight for his bout with Aoki, his ultimate goal is to challenge for a title, so he will fight at whatever weight can get him there.

“I’m going down to 170, but there were times were I almost fainted, so it’s quite difficult for me,” Akiyama said. “So I might go back to 185... 170 and [185] I’m considering, but I want to fight a champion. I’m not there yet but I want to keep on fighting so I can challenge.”

A title shot would be a first for Akiyama, whose biggest accomplishment in MMA was winning the K-1 HERO’s light heavyweight grand prix in 2006. And while he is currently on a two-fight winning streak, it still figures to be a tough road for a man his age to navigate. If that piece of business ultimately isn’t in the cards for him, he hopes at least that he can help ONE continue to expand its reach by bringing the first-ever ONE Championship event to South Korea.

“For me, I’ve been talking to Chatri [Sityodtong, ONE CEO] about doing ONE Championship in Korea,” he said. “This has never happened before.”

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