Shinya Aoki's ONE FC debut lasted just 85 seconds, and he left his flamboyant French opponent choked out and stiff from a triangle he set up from mount. It was a quick and dominant victory for one of the best submission fighters in the sport, and after not being able to fight in Japan since DREAM's demise, a win on Asian soil meant a bit more for Aoki.
"There are no big MMA shows in Japan at the moment. ONE FC is the largest show in Asia and I am happy that Japanese fighters like myself have the chance to fight on a big show in a big stadium in front of a lot of people again," said Aoki as he spoke to BloodyElbow.com, "I love fighting on ONE FC. It was a very enjoyable experience."
His opponent in Arnaud Lepont tried baiting Aoki several times during the lead up to the event, even bringing a booklet titled "Beating Aoki for Dummies" to the cage with him. Aoki, who has been less than kind to some of his past opponents who tried to do the same (see: Hirota, M.), had a more bland reaction this time out.
"No, (his antics) did not affect me. I have been fighting a long time. I thank him for building up interest with fans for the fight." As for Lepont hoping Shinya would stand with him early? Well that wasn't going to happen. "The plan was to go for a quick takedown."
"This means a lot to me. I wanted to make Singapore fans happy," he said as he talked about the experience of fighting in his adopted country for the first time, "Evolve MMA is my family and I wanted to make my team proud. Not only has it changed my life to train with so many world champions in every discipline, but we genuinely are a very close team. Thank you to Chatri Sityodtong for allowing me to be a part of the best martial arts team in Asia. I believe in Evolve MMA."
As for his new team in Evolve MMA, one of his primary training partners in Zorobabel Moreira lost on that same night against Kotetsu Boku. It was a lightweight title fight that Zoro was looking to be winning handily, until Boku, who was limping on one leg, suddenly landed a perfectly timed power shot that stumbled him and led to the huge upset.
Aoki never really had the ONE FC lightweight title on his sights before this weekend. He felt that it will be something his close friend will be holding on to for a very long time, but as he saw Moreira suddenly crash down to the mat against Boku, Shinya has suddenly changed his tune.
"It was a great fight. Zoro was dominating the fight and was very close to finishing Boku a few times." Aoki said as he talked about the lightweight title fight, "I want to fight. I will fight anyone, but I want to avenge my teammate, Zorobabel Moreira's loss. On the Evolve Fight Team, Zoro is my closest friend. I want a title shot against Boku."
Filipino fighter Eduard Folayang and Ole Laursen have been offered title shots and were believed to be next in line for Boku, but when asked about his thoughts on those potential match ups for Boku, or the possibility of waiting on Eduard, the DREAM champion just reiterated his claim.
"I am ready to fight now. I want a title shot against Boku," he said, completely determined to get that fight against Boku to avenge the loss.
Boku has expressed a desire to drop down to ONE FC's featherweight division shortly after signing with the top Asian promotion, but now that he won the lightweight title, it is unclear whether he will still push through with those earlier plans. Aoki on the other hand, manages to look comfortable making 155 lbs even with his a large 5'11 frame. Although it may be unlikely that Shinya chases after Boku should he drop to featherweight, the lightweight star didn't close the door on it.
"Yes, I have thought about it before," Aoki said as he talked about the possibility of adding 10 more pounds to cut, "Let's see."
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