Yoshihiro Akiyama hopes to compete in Japan and Korea on his way to a ONE World Championship
Japanese-Korean mixed martial arts veteran Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama may have arrived in ONE Championship at the twilight of his career, but the he is not planning on just riding out into the sunset.
Akiyama, who turns 44 in 2019, fully intends on becoming a champion in the Singapore-based martial arts organization.
“This is a challenge to myself,” Akiyama shared with ONE Championship. “I want to feel the happiness I’ve always felt by competing in martial arts.”
The newly-acquired middleweight admits that things are different now that he is up there in age, but promises that he can still perform at a high level.
“It takes more time to recover these days, but I intend to change nothing from when I was younger and train to that level, despite my current age,” he shared.
“I will be 44 years old in 2019, but every fan can expect me to perform in a way that does not look like a 44-year-old man,” he continued.
On his path to a ONE World Championship, Akiyama has expressed his desire to be able to compete in both Japan and Korea, the two countries that he represents to the fullest.
“I was born in Japan, and my home country is Korea. I love both countries,” he explained. “With ONE heading to both Tokyo and Seoul, it means I have the opportunity to return the favor to my supporters and fans in both of my beloved two countries.”
“If possible, I would like to participate in both nations, but timing-wise, it may be in Korea, to begin with,” he continued.
The two big-market countries will be first-time stops for ONE Championship in 2019, beginning with ONE: A NEW ERA in Tokyo on 31 March, which features arguably the most stacked ONE card in history.
“I think that competing in front of my fans in both nations would encourage and inspire many people – hopefully as many as possible!”
The ultimate goal, however, remains to be winning a world championship, which Akiyama hopes will help magnify the state of martial arts in Asia.
“My goal is being the champion, and making martial arts even bigger in Asia through my endeavors with ONE Championship,” he expressed.
Akiyama is expected to compete in the middleweight division, making him a possible contender for the ONE Middleweight World Championship, which will be contested by Aung La N Sang and Ken Hasegawa in Tokyo.