Yoshihiro Akiyama (秋山 成勲) (born July 29, 1975), also known as Sung Hoon Choo (추성훈), is a Japanese mixed martial artist and judoka. Akiyama won the gold medal at the 2001 Asian Championships for South Korea, and for Japan at the 2002 Asian Games. A fourth-generation Japanese of Korean descent, he acquired Japanese nationality in 2001. He is the former K-1 HERO's Light Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament Champion.
Akiyama in 2016
|Born||July 29, 1975|
|Native name||秋山成勲 (Akiyama Yoshihiro)|
추성훈 (Choo Sung-hoon)
|Height||177 cm (5 ft 10 in)|
|Weight||77 kg (170 lb)|
|Reach||75 in (191 cm)|
|Fighting out of||Osaka, Japan|
Jackson's Submission Fighting
|Rank||3rd dan black belt in Judo|
Black belt in Gaidojutsu
|Mixed martial arts record|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
last updated on: October 17, 2010
|Representing South Korea|
|2001 Ulaanbaatar||-81 kg|
|2002 Busan||-81 kg|
Before his professional mixed martial arts career, Akiyama was a decorated judoka. He began training in judo at the age of three. He has also trained Karate, Boxing, Kickboxing, Wrestling and also submission fighting with Greg Jackson.
2001 Asian championshipsEdit
Representing South Korea, Choo won the Gold Medal at the 2001 Asian Judo Championships.
2002 Asian GamesEdit
Representing Japan, Akiyama won the Gold Medal at the 2002 Asian Games defeating Ahn Dong-Jin of South Korea in the finals.
2003 World Judo Championships controversyEdit
Akiyama defeated three opponents from France, Mongolia and Turkey to reach the semi-finals of the 81 kg Light Middleweight division. However, all three opponents claimed that Akiyama had a slippery judogi. Wearing a reserve gi, Akiyama lost two games in a row (semifinal and 3rd-place match) and missed the medal.
International Judo Federation referee director Juan Carlos Barcos said an examination of the gi found that the slippery texture was due to high humidity which prevailed in Osaka and a detergent used to wash the uniform. "At any moment, we did not have any doubt about fair play in the case. We are absolutely sure that Mr. Akiyama is correct," since he changed the jacket at the request of the jury, Barcos said.
Mixed martial arts careerEdit
Akiyama's mixed martial arts debut was in the K-1 Premium 2004 Dynamite event on December 31, 2004, where he defeated boxer Francois Botha by armbar submission in the first round. His first defeat was to Jerome LeBanner, who knocked him out with knees in his second fight at the HERO'S 1 event on March 26, 2005, although LeBanner is a heavyweight that came into the fight at 262 pounds (119 kg), while Akiyama came into the fight at 189.5 pounds (86 kg). He has notable wins against Tokimitsu Ishizawa, Taiei Kin, Kestutis Smirnovas and Melvin Manhoef. Akiyama defeated Melvin Manhoef at the Hero's light-heavyweight Grand Prix 2006 final round, and gained the champion belt.
In K-1 Premium 2006 Dynamite, Akiyama fought the legendary Kazushi Sakuraba in the main event. During the match, Sakuraba called to the referee saying "[Akiyama is] Slippery!" Akiyama went on to win the match with a referee stoppage. This created a controversy amongst MMA fans in Japan, assuming Akiyama was using some sort of body oil or lubricant, banned in K-1 rules.
But at this moment, Akiyama answered to questions about the oil in the interview as follows: "I have no idea why Sakuraba felt slippery. It may be my sweat, as I sweat a lot always and it often drips off my body."
On January 11, Akiyama and FEG (the parent company of K-1) held a press conference during which Akiyama said he used Olay lotion prior to the fight claiming that the lotion was used to treat a worn gi. Pre-fight footage also showed Akiyama casually applying six bottles of lotion to his body in his locker room. As a result, Akiyama was disqualified and his prize money was suspended. Akiyama himself was suspended indefinitely from HERO'S competition six days later. Public outcry against Akiyama did not cease however, and Nike was swamped with complaints when Akiyama was featured on a television commercial in Japan. Though Akiyama has admitted to applying cream to his skin, he has said that the purpose was not to gain an unfair advantage but to treat his dry skin. The fight was ruled a "No Contest".
Akiyama was cleared from his FEG-induced suspension and FEG announced that Akiyama would return to K-1 Hero's in Seoul, on October 28, 2007. His opponent was Denis Kang, who was the finalist of PRIDE Bushido Grand Prix 2006 and making his debut in Hero's. Though he was an underdog, Akiyama beat Kang by KO in the first round.
On December 31, 2007, Akiyama faced Kazuo Misaki at Yarennoka!. The rules of the match stated that kicks to the head of a downed opponent would not be allowed. Late in the first round Misaki knocked down Akiyama with left hook, and as Akiyama struggled to his feet, Misaki delivered a lunging kick to the face which knocked Akiyama out. The match was ruled a knockout victory for Misaki, but Akiyama contended that one or both of his hands were on the mat at the time of the kick, which would make the kick a foul under the Yarennoka! rules. After reviewing video of the knockout, the Yarennoka! executive committee agreed; the official result was changed to a no contest.
Ultimate Fighting ChampionshipEdit
On February 24, 2009 it was announced on the official UFC website that Akiyama had signed a deal with the company. Even though he suffered a broken orbital bone during the start of round two, Akiyama went on to beat UFC veteran Alan Belcher at UFC 100 on July 11 by split decision (30–27, 28–29, 29–28). It was the 1st fight in Akiyama's career that went to the judges' score cards. The bout was also awarded "Fight of the Night" honors, granting both fighters a record-setting $100,000 bonus each.
Akiyama joined Xtreme Couture for the month of October 2009 to work on his striking skills. Akiyama was expected to face MMA legend and former PRIDE Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva on February 21, 2010 at UFC 110, but Silva instead faced British striker Michael Bisping on the card, winning via unanimous decision. At the Post-fight conference, UFC President Dana White stated that Akiyama had requested to fight Silva for a while and has refused to fight other opponents, after which both fighters verbally agreed to fight.
Akiyama was expected to face Silva on July 3, 2010 at UFC 116. Wanderlei had to pull out on June 22, 2010 due to fractured ribs suffered in training. Chris Leben was chosen as a replacement. Despite controlling the majority of the fight with effective strikes and solid Judo takedowns, Akiyama became fatigued after the first round and lost via triangle choke with just twenty seconds left in the third round. His loss to Leben was his first official loss in five years.
Akiyama lost to Michael Bisping on October 16, 2010 at UFC 120 by unanimous decision. In preparation for his fight with Bisping, Akiyama switched to Jackson’s Submission Fighting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is unclear whether the switch is permanent. Even though Akiyama lost to Bisping, he rocked him in the first round. He earned his third "Fight of the Night" honors. He has now earned "Fight of the Night" honors for all three of his UFC appearances.
Akiyama was briefly scheduled to face Chael Sonnen on March 19, 2011 at UFC 128, but, due to Sonnen's suspension, the fight was scrapped. Akiyama was later scheduled to face Nate Marquardt at the same event, but pulled out due to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and was replaced by Dan Miller.
Akiyama was defeated by Vitor Belfort at UFC 133 via KO (Punches) in the first round. This defeat marked the third straight loss for Akiyama in the UFC. Following the fight, Dana White stated that Akiyama most likely would not be cut from the organization if he agrees to move down to welterweight. As of September 3, 2011, Akiyama has stated he will move down a weight class, allowing him to stay in the UFC. On November 3, 2011, a picture of Akiyama had circled the web of his body frame as a welterweight.
Akiyama faced Jake Shields on February 26, 2012 at UFC 144. He lost the fight via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27). During the bout, Akiyama was able to utilize multiple judo techniques which was praised as the main highlights of the fight; despite losing the decision.
Akiyama had made an appearance alongside UFC featherweight Hatsu Hioki during the Q&A session for UFC on Fuel TV 8. During the Q&A, Akiyama stated he was thinking about returning for another bout as long as he has a free schedule as well as being matched against a well-known opponent that would interest fans. Akiyama also stated he still has interest in fighting Wanderlei Silva, a bout scheduled for UFC 116 but was changed when Silva had to pull out of the fight due to injury.
After over two and a half years away from the sport, Akiyama returned from his self-imposed hiatus on September 20, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 52. He was originally scheduled to face Kyle Noke on the card. However, Noke was forced out of the bout with a knee injury and replaced by Amir Sadollah. Akiyama won the fight via unanimous decision.
After three years from his previous bout, Akiyama announced his contract with ONE Championship. Akiyama faced Agilan Thani in a co-headliner bout at ONE Championship: Legendary Quest on June 20, 2019. He lost the bout via unanimous decision
As a former gold medalist in the sport, Akiyama stands out in MMA for his style of judo. His usage of it is mainly defensive, as he rarely indulges in the art's signature throws. Instead, Akiyama focuses mostly on defending takedowns in order to brawl with his opponent or getting top position on the mat to perform ground and pound. However, he has shown skill with harai goshi, kosoto gake and ouchi gari/osoto gari combinations, as well as the more complex uchi mata. Also, thanks to his knowledge of grip fighting, he is often successful in catching low kicks and following with sharp counterpunching.
Choo Sung-hoon's great-grandfather, Choo Jeong-won, was born in Jeju County, Jeollanam-do, Korean Empire (now Jeju City). During the Imperial Japanese occupation of Korea, Choo Jeong-won and his family sailed to Japan and adopted Japanese names to help settle in. In March 2009, Akiyama married famous Japanese fashion model Shiho Yano (also known as SHIHO in Japan) whom he had been dating since January 2007. The couple have a daughter, Choo Sarang, who was born on October 24, 2011. Akiyama and Sarang starred in the reality show, The Return of Superman, covering their father-daughter relationship.
He names Heavyweight Champion boxer Mike Tyson as his hero and holds a University degree in Commerce. He is close friends with South Korean actor Jang Keun-suk. In September 2015, Akiyama also appeared as a guest on 2 Days & 1 Night.
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
Mixed martial arts recordEdit
|Professional record breakdown|
|23 matches||14 wins||7 losses|
|Loss||14–7 (2)||Agilan Thani||Decision (unanimous)||ONE Championship: Legendary Quest||June 15, 2019||3||5:00||Shanghai, China|
|Loss||14–6 (2)||Alberto Mina||Decision (split)||UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Masvidal||November 28, 2015||3||5:00||Seoul, South Korea|
|Win||14–5 (2)||Amir Sadollah||Decision (unanimous)||UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Nelson||September 20, 2014||3||5:00||Saitama, Japan|
|Loss||13–5 (2)||Jake Shields||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 144||February 26, 2012||3||5:00||Saitama, Japan||Welterweight debut.|
|Loss||13–4 (2)||Vitor Belfort||KO (punches)||UFC 133||August 6, 2011||1||1:52||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Loss||13–3 (2)||Michael Bisping||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 120||October 16, 2010||3||5:00||London, England||Fight of the Night.|
|Loss||13–2 (2)||Chris Leben||Submission (triangle choke)||UFC 116||July 3, 2010||3||4:40||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Fight of the Night.|
|Win||13–1 (2)||Alan Belcher||Decision (split)||UFC 100||July 11, 2009||3||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Fight of the Night.|
|Win||12–1 (2)||Masanori Tonooka||Submission (armbar)||Dream 6: Middleweight Grand Prix 2008 Final Round||September 23, 2008||1||6:26||Saitama, Japan|
|Win||11–1 (2)||Katsuyori Shibata||Technical Submission (Ezekiel choke)||Dream 5: Lightweight Grand Prix 2008 Final Round||July 21, 2008||1||6:34||Osaka, Japan|
|NC||10–1 (2)||Kazuo Misaki||NC (overturned)||Yarennoka!||December 31, 2007||1||7:48||Saitama, Japan||Originally a KO victory for Misaki; overturned after a soccer kick was ruled illegal.|
|Win||10–1 (1)||Denis Kang||KO (punch)||Hero's 2007 in Korea||October 28, 2007||1||4:45||Seoul, South Korea|
|NC||9–1 (1)||Kazushi Sakuraba||NC (overturned)||K-1 Premium 2006 Dynamite!!||December 31, 2006||1||5:37||Osaka, Japan||Originally a TKO victory for Akiyama; ruled no contest due to greasing.|
|Win||9–1||Melvin Manhoef||Submission (armbar)||Hero's 7||October 9, 2006||1||1:58||Yokohama, Japan||Hero's 2006 Light Heavyweight Grand Prix final.|
|Win||8–1||Kestutis Smirnovas||TKO (punches)||Hero's 7||October 9, 2006||1||3:01||Yokohama, Japan||Hero's 2006 Light Heavyweight Grand Prix semifinal.|
|Win||7–1||Taiei Kin||Technical Submission (armbar)||Hero's 6||August 5, 2006||1||2:01||Tokyo, Japan||Hero's 2006 Light Heavyweight Grand Prix quarterfinal.|
|Win||6–1||Katsuhiko Nagata||KO (spinning back kick)||Hero's 5||May 3, 2006||1||2:25||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||5–1||Tokimitsu Ishizawa||Submission (Ezekiel choke)||Hero's 4||March 15, 2006||2||1:41||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||4–1||Masakatsu Okuda||KO (slam and punches)||Hero's 2005 in Seoul||November 5, 2005||1||3:31||Seoul, South Korea|
|Win||3–1||Michael Lerma||TKO (punches)||K-1: World MAX 2005||October 12, 2005||1||2:47||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||2–1||Carl Toomey||Submission (armbar)||Hero's 2||July 6, 2005||1||0:59||Tokyo, Japan|
|Loss||1–1||Jérôme Le Banner||KO (knees)||Hero's 1||March 26, 2005||1||2:24||Saitama, Japan|
|Win||1–0||Francois Botha||Submission (armbar)||K-1 Premium 2004 Dynamite!!||December 31, 2004||1||1:54||Osaka, Japan|
Judo competition recordEdit
|Notable Accomplishments/Titles (judo)|
|All-Japan Collegiate Separate Weight Divisions 2nd Place 2004|
|All-Japan Industry Judo Singles 81 kg Champion 2001|
|Kodokan Cup Japan Judo Championship 81 kg Champion 2001|
|Japan International Judo Tournament 81 kg Champion 2002|
|Paris International Judo Tournament 81 kg Champion 2002|
|Asian Games Judo 81 kg Champion 2002 (in Busan)|
|All-Japan Invitational Judo Championship Separate Weight Divisions 81 kg Champion 2003|
|World Judo Championship 81 kg Japan Representative 2003|
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- 2003 Judo Championship official results "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 19, 2008. Retrieved December 25, 2007.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link), -81kg
- archives. Taipei Times (2011-06-05). Retrieved on June 11, 2011.
- Taipei Times, Japanese hail judo comeback despite slippery-jacket row, September 13, 2003
-  Archived October 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- Bout Review USA. K-1 Dynamite!! 'Akiyama Disqualified!' Archived May 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Sportsnavi article Archived February 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine (in Japanese). January 17, 2007
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- Wanderlei, Akiyama Want to Meet. Sherdog.com. Retrieved on June 11, 2011.
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- "With Chael Sonnen out, Yoshihiro Akiyama now meets Nate Marquardt at UFC 128". sports.yahoo.com. January 7, 2011. Archived from the original on January 8, 2011. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
- "UFC 128: Dan Miller vs Nate Marquardt booked with Yoshihiro Akiyama out due to Japan tsunami". mmamania.com. March 12, 2011.
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- Tristen Critchfield (August 7, 2014). "Kyle Noke Injures Knee, Pulls Out of Sept. 20 UFC Fight Night Bout vs. Akiyama". sherdog.com. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
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- Antopn Tabuena (August 24, 2014). "Ben Henderson vs. Thiago Alves, several other bouts set for UFC: Korea". bloodyelbow.com. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
- Steven Marrocco (November 28, 2015). "UFC Fight Night 79 results: Alberto Mina edges Yoshihiro Akiyama in slugfest". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved November 28, 2015.
- Alexander K. Lee (November 29, 2018). "ONE Championship announces signing of 'Sexyama'". mmafighting.com.
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