The fight will take place at UFC 144 in Saitama, Japan.
Shields (26-6-1) has struggled in UFC since making his promotional debut in October 2010. He is 1-2 in the Octagon.
Akiyama, a resident of Osaka, will make his welterweight debut against Shields. The former middleweight agreed to compete at 170 pounds in an effort to retain his UFC roster spot.
Since his split-decision win over Alan Belcher at UFC 100 in July 2009, Akiyama has lost three fights in a row.
Also on the UFC 144 main card, lightweight champion Frankie Edgar faces former WEC titleholder Benson Henderson. Edgar (14-1-1) will make the fourth defense of his belt.
Henderson (15-2) has won all three of his UFC bouts.
Franklin McNeil covers mixed martial arts and boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Franklin_McNeil.