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Akiyama doesn’t want to fight Chris Leben

As a fighter, it’s a good idea to stay in decent shape year round because you never know when a major promotion will throw you onto a card six days before it’s going to happen. But Akiyama, a guy who has spent his entire career dealing with that kind of disorganized wackiness, has drawn the line with the UFC replacing his opponent Wanderlei Silva with Chris Leben:

“I am not pleased with the change. There are just ten days left until the contest for me to determine [Chris Leben’s] threats and the time is insufficient to establish a tailored gameplan. Leben is also not as high-profile as [Wanderlei] Silva and that does not help me.”

“If there is to be a replacement I was hoping for a big name. I spent one year preparing hard for this fight and this news has come as a big disappointment, my motivation has waned. I do not know yet what will happen. .. In the worst case, I will not take part in the [UFC 116] event. We are working hard to resolve this issue.”

If this was your standard American fighter, he’d get slapped upside the head and told to nut up, but since Akiyama is a minor deity in Korea and Japan he might actually have the clout to just drop the fight entirely. I wonder if he realizes what a giant pussy he’ll look like in the eyes of North American fans. While Chris Leben is just another nobody gaijin with silly hair to the Japanese, he’s one of our awful TUF favorites. We’ve been with him from his early days of urinating on pillows to the more recent steroid stuff – all the ups and downs (but mostly downs). I don’t know how much better the UFC could have done on a week and a half’s notice. Maybe if they left everything to the last second like Japan they’d have more options…