But Akiyama’s perseverance paid off because after being totally dominated in the first round he came back strongly in the second. This time Aoki was unable to secure the takedown and he paid the price.
After the fight ‘Sexyama’ celebrated wildly:
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) March 26, 2022
The tide turned at the start of the second stanza when Akiyama started to press forwards, throw punches and found Aoki had no answer for them. Time and time again the 44 year old connected with the chin of the former lightweight champion.
Aoki was basically blocking punches with his face and the tactic definitely didn’t pay off. Akiyama was relentless and having when his opponent sank to the floor he just carried on punching.
He never looked like knocking Aoki out but after a barrage of unanswered punches the referee decided he had seen enough and waved off the contest to give Akiyama the win. It was a grudge match with both men having had some harsh words for each other in the buildup.
But it was Akiyama who put his money where his mouth is. He scores the biggest win of his ONE Championship career and proved he still has what it takes to compete at the top level.
But Aoki’s title dreams are in tatters. Any hope he had of capturing the ONE Championship lightweight title for a third time was probably extinguished by Akiyama’s right hands.