Zuffa certainly did Akiyama no favors by giving him a fight against Belcher in his Octagon debut. This is a good opportunity, however, for Akiyama to defeat a very sound opponent and silence critics that claim he has lost a step. Yoshihiro Akiyama currently has a professional record of 12-1 with 2 No Contests. 5 of his victories are by knockout and 7 are by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced is 65.4% (source Sherdog.com). A win here by Akiyama would open up lots of options for a potential move by Zuffa into the Asian market, as Yoshihiro is a huge draw in both Japan and Korea.
For his part, Alan "The Talent" Belcher is a fighter that continues to improve. The Duke Roufus trained Mississippi native has displayed loads of potential thus far in his UFC run and appears to be a very competent middleweight striker. Belcher's record stands at 14-5. 7 of his wins are by knockout and 5 are by submission and the combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced is 60.8%. A win here would simply be huge for Alan and could significantly raise his status in the UFC's 185 pound division.
Belcher certainly makes for quite a challenge in Akiyama's debut. For all the talk about how Akiyama is shot, however, I still take a look at his resume and have to favor him. It is worth noting that it's Belcher, though, that seems to be gaining steam with the betting crowd. Akiyama has certainly faced bigger hitters in former world-class Top 10 boxing heavyweight Frans Botha, Jerome LeBanner and Melvin Manhoef. Which Belcher will we see at UFC 100? The one that was stopped by Jason Day or the one that nearly knocked Jorge Santiago's head off? Who do you like in this matchup?