Shinya Aoki has carved out his career fighting across Japan. As far as fighters in the lightweight division go, he is a stalwart. He boasts multiple accolades in a career that has spanned over a decade. His grappling has won him fans all over the world. His highlight reel features chokes, neck cranks, heel hooks and, recently, a twister. There is no denying that when Aoki competes, people will get a show. It’s always a little something to remember.
On May 22 at ONE Championship 27 in Kallang, Singapore, Aoki will have yet another chance to put on a memorable performance. He will step into the ONE Championship cage against fellow countryman Koji Ando. It’s a fight of styles, where a renowned grappler meets a well-rounded mixed martial artist. Many have waited years to see this battle.
Aoki’s career has taken him all over the world. However, three of his four ONE Championship fights have taken place in Singapore. While the upcoming clash with Ando is a bout between countrymen, Aoki will definitely feel at home while competing not far from the gym where he trains.
“I’m extremely excited to be fighting for the first time in 2015, especially since it will once again be in Singapore,” Aoki told to Combat Press. “I’m training really hard alongside my teammates on the Evolve Fight Team, and I’m looking forward to my fight against Koji Ando.”
Aoki has not suffered a loss in more than three years. He is the longest reigning ONE Championship titleholder, and a victory on May 22 would extend his reign of dominance over the lightweight division. However, the Japanese fighter is heading into the bout just as he would any other. It’s all business.
“I treat every fight as an important one to me,” Aoki said. “I am looking to remain undefeated inside the ONE Championship cage and retain my ONE lightweight world championship title at the end of the night.”
Over the past two years, Aoki has only competed inside the ONE Championship cage three times and defended his lightweight championship once. With many new contenders emerging in the promotion’s lightweight division, the opportunity is certainly there for Aoki to fight several times under the ONE Championship banner.
“I’m hoping to fight as many times as I can this year,” Aoki explained. “Martial arts has and will always be my passion, so I would definitely want to get as many chances inside the ONE Championship cage. I want to continue fighting inside the ONE Championship cage for as long as I can.”
Over the course of his almost 12-year career, Aoki has competed 44 times. The 32-year-old may be getting close to notching an impressive 50 professional bouts, but he still feels that there is more that he can do to develop his game.
“I love martial arts and competing inside the cage for sure. It is one of the greatest passion,” Aoki admitted. “I’m always hungry to learn more and work on my weaknesses and improve on my strengths.”
Aoki’s upcoming opponent, Ando, possesses a well-rounded skill set. He has never been submitted in his professional career, and he holds a victory over current ONE Championship featherweight kingpin Jadamba Narantungalag. Ando, a former champion with Legend FC, has not lost a fight since 2011 and impressed in his ONE Championship debut when he submitted Rafael Nunes in the very first round.
“I respect Koji and his abilities inside the cage, but I am confident in my own abilities as well,” Aoki said. “I am looking forward to facing him on the 22nd of May at ONE Championship: Warrior’s Quest, and I’m sure the fans in Singapore and around the world will be in for one spectacular fight.”
Aoki is currently riding a seven-fight winning streak, with all but one of those victories coming by way of submission. There is no doubt that the reigning champion has one of the best ground games in ONE Championship, and if the fight ends up on the mat, the veteran will more than likely finish the affair. However, he isn’t guaranteeing another submission victory to add to his impressive haul of 25 over his career. Instead, “Tobikan Judan” plans to keep everybody guessing.
“My coaches have come up with an excellent game plan for me to implement on fight night. To find out what that is, I guess you will have to wait until fight night.”