There’s truly only one Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama.
Also known as Choo Sung Hoon in Korea, Japan’s Akiyama is one of the middleweight division’s most unheralded entertaining fighters in MMA history. Akiyama was born to be a star with his dashing good looks (hence his brilliant nickname), but has the physical talent to boot. Therefore, leading him to his latest opportunity as part of Netflix’s recent hit series Physical: 100.
The nine-episode series featured 100 athletes and competitors of various shapes, sizes, and backgrounds, but all were best known for their impressive physical capabilities. The goal of the show was to find the one perfect body of the bunch. Amongst that mix was the 48-year-old 25-fight veteran Akiyama (16-7, 2 NC). Despite his love for his background in Judo and MMA, there was just something special about the overall challenge he just went through.
“Judo was very tough and MMA currently I’m doing, it’s very tough, too, and of course, Physical 100 is very tough as well,” Akiyama told MMA Mania. “But I enjoyed Physical: 100 the most.
“I was very honored because Netflix is so big, and I was very happy. When I heard about it, I got a bit confused because all of the competitors are very young and I’m not that young anymore.”
“Sexyama” continued to show that age is just a number with his appearance on the show, making it to the Top 20. Coincidentally, Akiyama’s first eliminator challenge saw him matched with a fellow MMA fighter Dong Guk Shin. The pair went one-on-one in a game of keep away, meaning the person last holding a medicine ball centered in the arena after three minutes was the winner. Unlike the other matchups, this paring turned into an impromptu MMA fight after Akiyama was challenged by his opponent.
Always the professional, Akiyama respected the request and the two battled it out as if they would in a cage, using palm strikes and slaps rather than punches, however. Akiyama bested his opponent, advancing to the next round where he was declared a captain for the next two team challenges. He led his team to victory in a sand-moving obstacle course before being tasked with a staggering 3000-pound challenge, requiring the movement of a ship with his 10-person squad.
“The toughest one was moving the ship with everyone,” Akiyama said of all the challenges he endured. “It was much heavier than I expected.
“Teamwork and strategy could match with our decisions. I was older than everyone and everyone listened to what I said so all of them could work well.”
The overall Physical: 100 experience was an unforgettable one and took a couple of strenuous months to complete. Riding a two-fight winning streak and last competing in March 2022, the iconic Japanese star is ready to get back in action before he calls it a career at age 50.
“I’m gonna reach 50 years old in two years,” Akiyama said. “This year, I think an MMA fight is gonna happen. I think it’s gonna happen, I just don’t know the exact time.
“I’ve always wanted to show that Japanese can fight against the bigs. Generally speaking, Japanese people are very small, but I really wanted to show everyone that we can fight.”