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Thoughts on opponent, Yoshihiro Akiyama? I have always been closely linked with Japan and their culture. I have great admiration for athletes from judo (Ronda, Karo Parisian, Akiyama, Dong Hyun Kim). Yoshihiro Akiyama is a renowned fighter and has already been in tough fights with big names like Vitor Belfort, Bisping, Jake Shields, Chris Leben. He (just as I) could not maintain consistency in fights and has had big breaks between fights in the last years. But he is a very dangerous opponent. I consider this a very tough fight, but it can bring the media attention. I'm not so young anymore and I have to do every fight as if it were a fight for the belt.
TRAINING: I have daily sessions of Muay Thai and wrestling and do my conditioning training three times a week. At my age, I have to train smart.
When and why did you start training for fighting? I started competing in BJJ and Judo when I was five years old. I started training MMA to help my teammates at the gym and saw it was a new challenge so I started competing in 2004. I got inspired by the first UFC I watched, with Royce Gracie, and decided then and there that I wanted to be in the UFC.
What ranks and titles have you held? I am a 3rd degree BJJ black belt and a 2nd degree Judo black belt. I am a Cage Rage veteran and held the UCMMA welterweight title in 2009 and 2010.
Do you have any heroes? I admire a lot of people, but my heroes will always be my parents, who have supported me through everything.
What does it mean for you to fight in the UFC? It's a dream come true and has been a goal of mine since Day One. The UFC is the pinnacle of professional MMA and is the highest achievement attainable by any fighter, so it means a lot to me to have this opportunity.
Did you go to college and if so what degree did you earn? Yes, I earned a Bachelor's degree in Sports Science and a Post-Graduate degree in Physiology.