Alan Belcher vs Yoshihiro Akiyama Betting Analysis, UFC 100
Alan Belcher (+220, BetUS) vs Yoshihiro Akiyama (-250, SportBet)
This is an interesting fight between the UFC staple, Alan Belcher, and the very highly touted Japanese fighter Yoshihiro Akiyama.
First off, Alan Belcher is a fairly well rounded fighter with a very good Muay Thai standup style. He does a good job mixing up his striking and has great knees in the clinch. On the ground, he has his guillotine, which he used to beat Sean Salmon and Denis Kang. That being said, his UFC career has been somewhat rocky. In his UFC debut at UFC 62 he was defeated by the extremely dangerous Yushin Okami. He then went on to knockout Jorge Santiago with a great head kick. After that, he was chocked unconscious by Kendall Grove. He then got some high quality wins over Sean Salmon and Kalib Starnes. However, he was later defeated by the likes of Jason Day, who put him out pretty quickly via strikes in the first round. Since that loss, he has eked out a close decision win over Ed Herman and somehow choked out Denis Kang after being essentially dominated the rest of the fight.
Belcher trains out of Biloxi, MI at Remix MMA with a small stable of professional fighters. He has also done some Muay Thai training in Thailand. Belcher is a pretty big middleweight that has comfortably fought at light heavyweight. His biggest strengths in this fight should be his standup and size advantage.
Yoshihiro Akiyama is a Japanese fighter with a highly decorated Judo background. So we know that he has good takedown skills. However, he has shown the ability to stand and trade and was able to catch Denis Kang in their meeting at Heroes 2007 in Korea. That being said, Kang was doing very well in that fight until he got pressed in the corner and caught. Akiyama has also had a number of controversies surrounding him. He defeated Kazushi Sakuraba at Dynamite!! 2006, only to have it changed to a no contest after it was learned that Akiyama had lathered up his whole body in lotion. There was an additional controversy over his loss to Kazuo Misaki where he was knocked out by a head kick that was later labeled illegal. Plus, there was a slight controversy from his Judo days that involved his gi and some detergent that made it slippery. Suffice it to say he has a history of problems.
Akiyama’s record stands at 12-1, but his last two opponents were less than impressive. He got an armbar on Masanori Tonooka at Dream 6, who was only 1-1 at the time. He also defeated Katsuyori Shibata at Dream 5 with a collar choke. Shibata was 2-4 at the time. This leads into another oddity. In Akiyama’s last two fights, we was allowed to wear a gi and actually ended up using it to choke out Shibata. He will not have that luxury in this fight.
I also want to point out the trend that we have seen with Japanese fighters coming to the UFC and not faring well. We saw Akihiro Gono go 1-2 and then leave. Ryo Chonan went 1-3. Keigo Kunihara is currently 0-1. Dokonjonosuke Mishima went 0-2. Kazuhiro Nakamura went 0-2. Hayato Sakurai went 0-1. Caol Uno is 3-4-1. Genki Sudo and Yoshiyuki Yoshida have both gone 2-1 and Yushin Okami is the only real outlier with a 7-1 UFC record. I think this probably has to do with the weight differences in Japan. In the US there is a long tradition of weight cutting that they don’t have there. Most of the Japanese fighters walk around at their fighting weight, which is very rare in the US.
This fight is also Akiyama’s first fight in the UFC and we have seen a lot of fighters have problems in their first fight. Even veteran fighters that have competed all over the world in very large shows have been affected. It may just be a matter of nerves and adrenaline dumps, but whatever is the cause, it needs to be factored in.
Another aspect I want to look at is Belcher’s history as an underdog. He was +230 with Denis Kang. +240 with Ed Herman. He was the favorite at -345 over Jason Day (which he lost) and +110 with Kalib Starnes. He has done very well as an underdog in the past and I want to believe that that trend will continue with this fight.
Ultimately, I think Alan Belcher is going to be too large and hit too hard for Akiyama. He has great Muay Thai skills and with Akiyama’s propensity to standup with his opponents, I think there is a good chance that Belcher will get the KO or TKO. If it goes to the ground, the edge would go to Akiyama, but with Belcher’s ability to pull submissions out on very good opponents, he can’t be counted out. His strength advantage should also allow him to power out of Akiyama’s submission attempts, at least in theory. When we factor in the problems that Japanese fighters have had in the UFC and the first time jitters, Belcher becomes a very interesting bet, especially as a strong underdog.
Final Prediction: Alan Belcher at +220 risking 2 units to win 4.4 units.