After what he considered to be a disappointing debut at featherweight, Shinya Aoki is back at 155lb, where he will meet UFC veteran Kamal Shalorus in the Iranian's third One FC fight.
The famed submission specialist has been placed in one of the feature fights of the promotion's debut event in the Middle East region. Although the country he will be visiting for the first time as an athlete intrigues him, he is focused on his opponent, who he considers to be a worthy adversary with a dangerous skill set.
"I will do a full eight-week camp at Evolve MMA to prepare for Kamal Shalorus, he is a strong fighter and a strong wrestler and I must be at my best if I want to beat him," Aoki told MMAWeekly.com through a translator. "I know he is a very strong wrestler and it will be a challenge to take him down, but I know this is the case and it is not a problem for me."
"I want to get the submission but my Evolve MMA coaches have helped me with my Muay Thai a lot and I am confident in all areas of my MMA game."
Asked why he is returning to lightweight so soon after making his 145lb debut, Aoki explained that he was not impressed with his physical conditioning at featherweight and wanted to return to the division he was most comfortable in. He did not rule out another potential drop in the future.
"I was disappointed at how bad my physical condition was and I have still not got used to fighting at 145 pounds. I want to fight at 155 pounds because I feel in good condition, but I believe it is possible for me to fight in both divisions," he said.
Aoki is aware of the hot and humid climate in Dubai and will adjust accordingly when the time comes.
"I know it will be very hot in Dubai and many people will support my opponent, but it does not matter. I am strong."
It should be noted that there is no evidence to suggest that Shalarous would be shown any hometown favouritism from the Dubai crowd, as Iranians are not considered Arabs, as many seem to suggest.
One FC 19 takes place August 29 at the Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.