Yoshihiro AkiyamaThe UFC made a substantial acquisition for their international expansion efforts today.

Japan’s most hated fighter, Yoshihiro Akiyama, has signed an exclusive deal with the UFC. He’s expected to make his Octagon debut sometime this summer.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship today announced that it has signed top-ten middleweight contender Yoshihiro Akiyama to an exclusive promotional contract that will see him step into the UFC Octagon for the first time this summer.

“I’m excited to bring Akiyama into the UFC and I can see him making an immediate impact in the middleweight division,” said UFC President Dana White. “Besides his great judo and submission game, he’s a finisher, and UFC fans are going to love watching him because he always shows up to fight.”

If it wasn’t obvious before that the UFC is making plans to invade Japan and Korea, it clearly is now.

Because Akiyama’s hated so much in Japan, the Japanese can’t help but tune in with the hope of watching him lose. Problem is though, he doesn’t. So not only does the UFC have a major asset to take across the Pacific, they also have another legitimate contender to add to their middleweight division.

The big question now is when exactly is the UFC going to make the trip the Land of the Rising Sun? Looks like sooner rather than later.