Michael Bisping file photo | Sherdog.com
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner Michael Bisping will meet Yoshihiro Akiyama in the UFC 120 main event on Oct. 16 at the O2 Arena in London. The promotion on Tuesday made the matchup official, along with two others.
Anchored at the Wolfslair Academy, Bisping has won two of his past three fights. The 31-year-old Englishman last appeared at UFC 114 in May, when he notched a unanimous decision against former International Fight League middleweight champion Dan Miller. Bisping has secured more than half (12) of his 19 career wins by knockout or technical knockout and has been finished only once -- by former two-division Pride Fighting Championships titleholder Dan Henderson -- in his 22-fight professional career. He remains undefeated (15-0) on British soil.
“Akiyama is a very dangerous guy,” Bisping said in a release. “He strikes very well, he has power and he will keep coming at you. He is very strong with his judo takedowns, and I will have to train seriously hard to come up for an answer for those. But I think that if I set a fast, hard pace in the first round, that by the third I will have taken over and will be in a position to finish him.”
Akiyama finds himself on the rebound after he submitted to a triangle choke from Chris Leben at UFC 116 earlier this month; it was his first loss in more than five years. The 34-year-old Judo black belt holds notable wins against surging middleweight contender Alan Belcher, 2006 Pride welterweight grand prix finalist Denis Kang and former heavyweight boxing champion Francois Botha.
“Bisping is a very good technical striker, so I am expecting a stand-up match with him,” Akiyama said. “I want to show the world that Asian fighters can stand toe-to-toe with the world’s best.”
Meanwhile, former welterweight title contender Dan Hardy will lock horns with one-time World Extreme Cagefighting champion Carlos Condit in the UFC 120 co-headliner.
A Team Rough House product, Hardy has not competed since he dropped a one-sided unanimous decision to welterweight king Georges St. Pierre at UFC 111 in March; the defeat snapped his seven-fight winning streak. The 28-year-old was a two-division Cage Warriors titleholder and counts victories against Akihiro Gono, Marcus Davis and American Kickboxing Academy standout Mike Swick among his 23 career conquests. In 31 professional appearances, Hardy has never been knocked out.
Condit returns to the cage for the first time since his stirring come-from-behind victory against the previously unbeaten Rory MacDonald at UFC 115 in June. The 26-year-old Albuquerque, N.M., native has rattled off 10 wins in 11 fights, a split decision defeat to the world-ranked Martin Kampmann the only hiccup. Condit has delivered 24 of his 25 wins by KO, TKO or submission.
Finally, undefeated welterweight prospect John Hathaway will collide with former WEC welterweight champion Mike Pyle in a key matchup at 170 pounds.
Spawned by the London Shootfighters camp, Hathaway cruised to a unanimous decision against “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 1 winner Diego Sanchez at UFC 114 in May, as he announced himself as a legitimate factor in the welterweight division. The 22-year-old Englishman has secured seven of his 14 victories inside one round.
Pyle last set foot inside the Octagon in June, when he submitted Jesse Lennox with a third-round triangle choke. Anchored at Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts in Las Vegas, the 34-year-old Dresden, Tenn., native holds victories against 2010 Bellator Fighting Championships welterweight tournament finalist Dan Hornbuckle, Shonie Carter and the world-ranked Jon Fitch. Pyle, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, has secured 17 of his 19 wins by submission.
Saturday, Oct. 16
Michael Bisping vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama
Dan Hardy vs. Carlos Condit
John Hathaway vs. Mike Pyle
* Cyrille Diabate vs. Alexander Gustafsson
* Cheick Kongo vs. Travis Browne
* James Wilks vs. Claude Patrick
* Spencer Fisher vs. Curt Warburton
* James McSweeney vs. Tom Blackledge
* Rob Broughton vs. Vinicius Kappke de Quieroz
* Not Official