While Chris Leben earned praise for agreeing to replace an injured Wanderlei Silva against Yoshihiro Akiyama at “UFC 116: Lesnar vs. Carwin” just days after his previous bout, Akiyama said today that he is “disappointed” with the new matchup and threatened to withdraw from the July 3 event, but ultimately agreed to the fight.
“I am not pleased with the change. There are just ten days left until the contest for me to determine [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,” Akiyama told Korean website Daum.net, according to Fighters Only.
“If there is to be a replacement I was hoping for a big name,” Akiyama continued, “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.”
Silva withdrew from the co-main event on Tuesday after suffering three broken ribs while training, but had planned to fight Akiyama despite a torn ACL. “The Axe Murderer” will now undergo knee surgery and will be sidelined at least six months to recover from the injuries.
UFC 116 is headlined by the return of heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar vs. interim title-holder Shane Carwin.