UFC newcomer Yoshihiro Akiyama (12-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), a highly regarded middleweight who signed with the UFC in February, could make his octagon debut against UFC veteran Alan Belcher (14-5 MMA, 5-3 UFC) at UFC 100.
A source close to the negotiations told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) the proposed fight hasn't been signed and "isn't set in stone," but bout agreements could be distributed and finalized soon.
UFC 100 takes July 11 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, and as announced this past weekend, will likely feature a title-unification bout between UFC heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar and interim title-holder Frank Mir.
Akiyama, a decorated judoka of Korean descent, launched his MMA career in December 2007 and has spent most of his career with the K-1 HERO'S organization, which now operates under the DREAM banner, in Japan. The 33-year-old is now 11-0 (with two no-contests) since July 2005.
In his 13 official bouts, Akiyama has never gone to a decision. All 12 of his wins have come via stoppage (seven via submission and five via knockout), and only two have gone past the first round.
A source close to Akiyama told MMAjunkie.com the fighter had hoped to make his UFC debut on U.S. soil, though he remains hopeful the organization will eventually head to Asia so he can fight there, as well.
If the UFC 100 fight is signed, Akiyama will face a very stiff test in his octagon debut. Belcher is one the middleweight division's hottest fighters, with four victories in his past five fights, and recently upset another MMA notable making his UFC debut.
Back in January at UFC 93, Belcher scored an upset and ruined the long-awaited UFC debut of Denis Kang. After dodging submission attempts and dropping the first round, the 24-year-old quickly turned the tides in the second and submitted Kang via guillotine choke.
In addition to Lesnar vs. Mir, which was pulled from the UFC 98 card following Mir's recent knee surgery, UFC 100 is expected to feature UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre vs. Thiago Alves, and "The Ultimate Fighter 9" coaches Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson are slated to meet in a middleweight bout. It's quickly shaping up to be the can't-miss UFC event of 2009.
For the latest on UFC 100, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of MMAjunkie.com.