Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields will take on Japanese star Yoshihiro Akiyama when the UFC visits Japan on February 26th next year for UFC 144.

Shields is currently 0-2 in the UFC after back-to-back losses to Georges St.Pierre and Jake Ellenberger so this will be seen as a must-win fight, and on paper it’s certainly seems like that could be achieveable.

For Akiyama this fight will mark his debut at 170lbs after a rough spell at middleweight in which he succumbed to three consecutive defeats including a quick KO loss to Vitor Belfort last time out.

While Shields is a formidable first opponent for Akiyama in his first fight in the new weight class it’s not an unwinnable fight for him. His cardio is one of his biggest weaknesses, and just so happens to be one of Shields strength’s but his cut down to welterweight – something that many have been calling for long before now – could help him in that regard.

Meanwhile Shields stand-up is relatively weak for such a high-level athlete and if Akiyama can use his takedown defense to keep this fight standing then he could pull off an upset victory.

All in all it appears to be an intriguing match-up, and one that should appeal to the Japanese fans.

Shields Vs Akiyama is the second fight to be lined up for UFC 144, coming hot on the heels of the announcement that a lightweight title fight between Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson will headline the show.

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