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Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields Announced For UFC 144 in Japan

It’s official. Yoshihiro Akiyama will return to Japan for his welterweight debut, but unlike many of his past fights in Japan, this one won’t be a gimme.

The UFC announced today that he’ll take on Jake Shields when they cross the Pacific for UFC 144 on Feb. 26.

“Verbal agreements are in for a welterweight matchup in Tokyo, Japan between former Strikeforce champion Jake Shields and Asian superstar ‘Sexyama’ Yoshihiro Akiyama February 26th,” said UFC President Dana White.

It’s no surprise the UFC is bringing Akiyama to Japan. He’s a big draw there and having him for the Asian market is probably the only reason he still has a job in the UFC following three straight losses.

Breaking that losing streak won’t be easy though. Shields may be on a slide of his own, but he didn’t win 15 straight fights before he ran into Georges St. Pierre because he’s a mediocre fighter. He knows how to win fights and will certainly be looking to get back in the win column after a difficult 2011.

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