For the Japanese superstar, this is a huge fight as he is in danger of suffering his fourth straight loss, possibly resulting in a pink slip from UFC President Dana White.
Going down to welterweight for the first time in his career, it will be interesting to see how the weight cut effects Akiyama. Known for a less-than-stellar cardio, a bad weight cut would only act as a further detriment to his game.
Also, as someone who likes to challenge his opponent's skills, going toe-to-toe with Shields on the ground may not be a good idea for Akiyama. If he can keep the fight standing and hit Shields with his heavy hands, he might be able to take the win while fighting in his home country.
The former Strikeforce champion is in a similar predicament to Akiyama as he is riding a two-fight losing streak entering this bout.
Coming off a title loss to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 129 and a devastating knockout loss to Jake Ellenberger in September, it will be interesting to see how Shields can comeback after a string of losses.
As usual, Shields will look to get the fight to the ground where he will have a huge advantage and can work his submission game.
If Shields can avoid Akiyama's heavy hands and take top control in the later rounds, he will have a great shot at submitting the Japanese superstar.