Born and raised in the Land of the Rising Sun, Shinya Aoki has long been considered to be one of the cream of the crop lightweight fighters on the planet by a huge portion of both hardcore fans, and “experts” alike.
The twenty-six year old submission wizard stands just an inch shy of six foot tall, towering over the average fighter with a preference for the 155 pound division. Aoki is known as both “Tobikan Judan” and “The Baka Survivor” by his legions of adoring fans worldwide. With a professional mixed martial arts record of 26-4, the black belt in Jiu-Jitsu and Judo has made a name for himself in the sport as one of it’s most lethal ground fighters; finishing bouts with a slew of eye dazzling submissions, all while rocking his trademark spandex tights.
While establishing a reputation as one of the most feared lightweight combatants in the business, Aoki has done the bulk of his fighting in….. scratch that, Aoki has never fought one of his twenty-six professional bouts outside of his native country of Japan.
Following his most recent rubber match victory over Joachim Hansen during DREAM 11 on October 6, Shinya admitted to contemplating retirement prior to his most recent bout, just before going on to state that he wants to test himself against the best in the business in the future, right here in the United States.
“I’ve been fighting one bout after another, so I’m exhausted,” admitted Aoki. “I was thinking this was my last fight. I just want to rest. After that, then maybe I can decide on something. I’d like to fight B.J. Penn.
“I want to fight the best in the world, like B.J. Penn and Kenny Florian — strong guys like that. I want to take them out and prove that Japanese are truly strong. I was told by someone that ‘you got the belt, now you’re number one in the world,’ but I don’t think so. Being top of the world isn’t something so trivial. If I could become like B.J. Penn, I could die happy.”
I’ll be the first to admit that I admire the Nippon warrior’s testicular fortitude in his desire to test himself against the best, however, I assure you it’s a test he would bomb.
Aoki may be one of the best lightweights not currently under contract with the UFC, but that’s just due to the fact that the majority of the best fighters in the world are signed to the promotion.
It seems as though Shinya has been affected by the vapors produced by the previously noted fans and professional intellectuals of the sport promoting him as a legit top three fighter at the weight class. The overseas hysteria over fighters such as Aoki, Joachim Hansen, Eddie Alvarez and Gesias “JZ” Calvancante is maddening at it’s core. It’s almost as if people find it trendy to hold foreign competition in this high light. Like they know something you don’t. Give me a break.
First off, Shinya Aoki is a one trick pony, flat out.
The guy is absolutely astonishing on the ground. There’s no question about it, breath taking submissions are his forte, but that’s only going to get you so far in the sport. Especially under a banner such as the UFC where being dangerously well rounded is the name of the game.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it a million times, ‘Really good at everything trumps amazing at one thing everytime’, all the time.
This is mixed martial arts, not the Abu Dhabi Combat Club. People get punched in the face in this sport on a regular basis.
Aoki reminds me of another ridiculously talented Jiu-Jitsu practitioner by the name of Demian Maia; extraordinary on the canvas, but if you place a good one on his chin, you can call it a night.
One rude awakening the current DREAM lightweight champion would have if he was to put his money where his mouth is and fight in the Octagon would be the use of elbows. Aoki possesses a terrifying guard game, and thrives on his slick rubber guard to set up an entire arsenal of submission, but elbows would instantly throw that aspect of his ground game right out the window.
Aoki will find it extremely difficult to maintain that rubber guard clutch onto his foot with one of his hands for very long as a guy like Sean Sherk is ramming big league elbows down his throat. The rubber guard works when all you can do is punch, but with elbows, not so much.
Another thing to consider is the enormous size differential Shinya would encounter should he ultimately decide to test the waters in the UFC. The weight cut-off for DREAM is 150 pounds. There is no way humanly possible for a guy like Sean Sherk to cut down to even 154 pounds, let alone 150. The fact that “The Muscle Shark” can even touch 156 for two or three minutes before stepping on the scales is truly a work of modern science.
Guys like Sherk, Tyson Grifin, Gray Maynard and Diego Sanchez all walk around well over the 170 pound mark, yet when Aoki decided to try his hand at welterweight recently against Hayato Sakurai, he barely managed to bulk up to a measly 162 pounds. Sakurai, who came in at just 167 pounds (puny in comparison with guys like GSP, Anthony Johnson and Thiago Alves) completely walked through Aoki. It wasn’t even close. A one sided, 27 second beatdown.
In this writer’s opinion, it’s hard to imagine the results being very different if Aoki was to face off with a huge bulk of the UFC’s current roster. As a matter of fact, there’s no way I see his flashy spandex tights pulling off gogoplatas on B.J. Penn, Gray Maynard, Frankie Edgar, Sean Sherk, Diego Sanchez, Tyson Griffin, Joe Lauzon, or Roger Huerta. He wouldn’t even be able to get them to the ground.
The thought of the lanky framed Japanese fighter dangling from someone as powerful as Gray Maynard in hopes of somehow dragging him to the ground is laughable at the very best.
I’m not saying that I have a problem with Aoki coming to the UFC. Nothing could be further from the truth. To the contrary, I want, and have wanted Shinya in the UFC for some time now so this unfathomable hysteria concerning his unproven skill level can finally be laid to rest.
Talk of fighting guys like Penn or Florian is just crazy talk. Nothing more than a serious case of disillusioned diarrhea of the mouth.
I’ll tell you what, Aoki can fight Clay Guida right off the bat if he finds it somewhere within those skin tight spandex to man up to his big talk.
Furthermore, I’ll tell you something else: Guida would make an embarrassment of Aoki and his Japanese hype machine.
Mark my words: Don’t believe the hype.