Record: 19-3-0 overall, 9-3-0 UFC
Key wins: Matt Hamill (UFC 75), Chris Leben (UFC 89), Dan Miller (UFC 114)
How he got here: Bisping's road has been slightly rocky ever since taking a step up in competition that coincided with his coaching stint on "The Ultimate Fighter 9." Bisping was knocked into next year by Dan Henderson to culminate that season but rebounded with a TKO win against Denis Kang. Bisping would come back three months later and drop a unanimous decision to Wanderlei Silva. Most recently, Bisping picked up a decision win against Dan Miller. This will be Bisping's seventh fight on an overseas UFC card. This will be his third main event. At this point, though, unless he does something real big, Bisping always will be remembered for getting blasted by Henderson on the biggest stage in the sport's history.
How he gets it done: Of Bisping's 19 career wins, 12 have come by KO or TKO. Bisping's finishing rate by that method hasn't decreased dramatically, either. He finished 60 percent of his wins by KO or TKO outside the UFC and 50 percent inside the UFC. Bisping has finished four fights by submission, but none have come inside the UFC. All three of his decision wins have come inside the Octagon. Bisping has become known for working in and out with his strikes recently, as that was on full display in his decision wins against Leben and Miller.
X-Factor: Although he works like crazy to not get hit, Bisping has been hurt by both Henderson (an understatement) and Silva in prior fights. Akiyama has power that can hurt Bisping. Will Bisping be haunted by these memories and be more tentative? Time will tell.
Record: 13-2-0 (2 NC), 1-1 UFC
Key wins: Melvin Manhoef (K-1 Hero's 7), Denis Kang (K-1 Hero's Korea), Alan Belcher (UFC 100)
Key losses: Chris Leben (UFC 116)
Key no contests: Kazushi Sakuraba (K-1 Dynamite!! 2006 - greasing), Kazuo Misaki (Yarennoka - KO'd by illegal soccer kick)
How he got here: Many would categorize Akiyama's UFC tenure as a disappointment thus far. "Sexyama" came into the Octagon last year with a lot of hype. After not facing much top competition in Asia, Akiyama looked sluggish in defeating Alan Belcher by split decision at UFC 100. He didn't return to the UFC for a year, where he fought late replacement Chris Leben at UFC 116. In a back-and-forth dramatic fight, Leben locked in a triangle choke that forced Akiyama to tap for the first time in his career with only 20 seconds left in the fight. After two disappointing performances, Akiyama must have a good performance here against Bisping.
How he gets it done: Known for his judo, Akiyama has finished all but one of his 13 career wins. Seven have come by submission and five by KO or TKO. This will be an interesting test of Akiyama's skills as Bisping brings a well-rounded game to the table. Akiyama has power in his strikes, but it will be interesting to see if he wants to keep it on the feet with Bisping (likely) or take it to the mat.
X-Factor: Akiyama's conditioning has not been up to par during his UFC tenure. Akiyama was sucking on wind against Belcher and completely flatlined against Leben in July. If we know anything about Bisping it's that his conditioning is very good and he can run laps around other fighters inside the Octagon. If Akiyama hasn't shored up this aspect of his game, it's going to be tough for him to win a fight I expect to enter the third round.
Bottom line: If Bisping can stay away from Akiyama's power, it's his fight to lose. Akiyama's conditioning, as just mentioned, has been brutal in his two UFC fights. If Bisping plays his normal game, he should have no trouble winning a decision here. It would not surprise me, however, if Akiyama popped him a few times in the early rounds. Akiyama did have Leben, a man with a renowned chin, reeling during the second round of their fight, so he has the power to put Bisping away. It will be interesting to see what happens should this go to the ground. In all likelihood, Bisping wins a decision here.
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