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UFC 144 main card recap: Jake Shields grinds out unanimous decision victory over Yoshihiro Akiyama

Jake Shields had little success getting Yoshihiro Akiyama to the ground, but stayed busy with his striking en route to earning a unanimous decision victory at UFC 144.

After a tentative start, Jake Shields secured a leg and worked to take Akiyama to the mat and into his world, but could not, as Akiyama fought off the takedown and took the center of the cage. After the reset, Akiyama landed a couple of right hands as Shields countered with kicks to the body. Akiyama then landed a big uppercut up the middle but Shields shook it off and again shot in trying to get the fight to the mat. Akiyama fought off the initial takedown but ended up with Shields on his back, before spinning out of his grasp and taking the center of the cage. Shields kept the kicks coming, and landed his jab consistently as the round wore on. Akiyama then secured the only takedown of the opening round with a trip, but both fighters quickly got back to their feet as time ran out on a very close first stanza.

Shields doubled up on his jab to start the second, but it was Akiyama that landed the more damaging strikes early, as he countered over the top with right hands. Shields again tried to close the distance and clinch, but Akiyama was able to evade the clinch and step out of range, easily shrugging off the takedown attempts of Shields. Shields came back with a steady dose of kicks and jabs as the round progressed, continuing to score with his striking volume. Akiyama showed off his judo skills as Shields stepped forward to strike, executing a picture-perfect throw of his opponent. Shields got back to his feet and immediately shot in for another takedown but couldn’t secure it as the bell sounded on a very close second frame.

Shields stayed busy with his jabs in the final frame, looking to setup another takedown attempt. Although Akiyama landed the more powerful strikes, it was Shields that stayed busier, delivering a higher volume of punches and kicks. Akiyama finally gave up a takedown, but Shields was unable to keep him grounded. After a restart, Shields finally got a big takedown and went to work on the back of Akiyama, trying to drag him to the ground. Two grabs of the cage kept Akiyama on his feet and bought Akiyama some time, but Shields fought on, securing his hooks and looking for a choke just before the bell.

After the cards came back, it was an emotional Jake Shields that improved to 26-6 overall (1-2 UFC).

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