This Saturday on October 6, one of the most accomplished lightweights in Asia makes his ONE FC debut. DREAM champion, Shinya Aoki has signed with the top Asian promotion and at ONE FC 6 in Singapore, he will be in a 'Super-Fight' against Arnaud Lepont.
Lepont, who has a record of 9-1, is an up and coming French fighter who has been living in Malaysia and fighting out of Muay Fit for the past few years. Back in June at ONE FC 4, Lepont took on Brian Choi, and after a back and forth battle, he eventually choked out Aoki's Evolve MMA teammate.
Following his most high-profile victory, Lepont took the microphone and called out one of his 'idols', pleading Victor Cui to give him his dream match against Aoki.
A few months later, and he got the call from ONE FC's Matt Hume offering him the fight, and as soon as the match up was announced, it garnered mixed reactions from people. Aoki personally said that he doesn't know much or anything about his opponent, while some pundits felt that Lepont didn't deserve a shot against a top ranked fighter.
Don't tell that to this brash and confident French fighter though.
"I am a good fighter. I am on a winning streak, and I honestly think I deserve that shot at him," Lepont stated as he spoke to BloodyElbow.com, "I work my ass off. I train twice a day, and I am on the top of the 155lbs division, but I was really hoping to get a shot at my idol."
"I beat one of the top Malaysian Muay Thai fighters. I beat Cris Haja, who was undefeated at that time. I beat Brian Choi before the limit, when he was telling the world that 'only a black belt' can submit him," Arnaud said as he states his case for getting a marquee bout, "I am not surprised. I have done a lot of sacrifices, and this is not an easy life. This is my reward."
"I am happy that ONE FC think I can pull off an upset, but I have to confess, I was very surprised when I had the phone call from Matt Hume telling me that I have my dream fight."
As for Shinya saying that he doesn't know who he is, Lepont just takes it in stride.
"He is right. I understand that he never heard of me. I feel nothing about that," Arnaud continued, "He is a Legend of our sport, so I think he isn't really aware of newcomers and how much we are hungry of victory, of respect."
"He said that 'I was stupid to call him out', well I think he did a big mistake by underestimate me. I am gonna make him pay for that."
Lepont is an underdog in most people's books, but like most fighters who is put in this situation, he cherishes the moment and is very confident he can cash in on this huge opportunity.
"He keeps saying that he will knock me out standing, so I hope it's not just a little trick and that he will try to bring me down in the first minute of the fight. I really hope to trade leather with him."
"I think Aoki is still evolving and trying to improve as a mixed martial artist. I am just training with the best I can find and I try to push myself to another level," he said, "I had Roger Huerta, Fernando Maccachero, Cedric Jouvet, Eric Kelly, Murad Karayev, Piotr Leib, and I am confident of my chances."
The accomplished Japanese fighter hasn't exactly been saying good things about his opponent as of late, so does Lepont still see Shinya as one of the fighters he respects and looks up to?
"I respect the Legend... but I don't respect the man's attitude," Lepont states, "Aoki has some holes in his game. But the biggest one is his confidence. I think he really underestimates me. He will regret that."
Follow me on twitter -- @antontabuena