MMA Legend Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki from the Evolve Fight Team isn’t concerned about being next in line for a title shot, although he is definitely knocking on the door given his most recent performances. For the 35-year-old Japanese martial arts veteran, he just wants to test his skills against the very best opponents in the world.
Aoki is scheduled to face international Thai superstar and top ONE lightweight contender Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai in a three-round lightweight contest at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS, set for Friday, 27 July at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines. The promotion’s lightweight division runs incredibly deep with world-class fighters, and Aoki sits square in the middle of its top talents.
“My only goal is to be the best martial artist I can be,” said Aoki. “I want to push myself to greater lengths with each fight, win or lose.”
Known as the ‘Grandmaster of Flying Submissions’, Aoki has dazzled over a stellar 15-year professional mixed martial arts career, taking on some of the biggest names in martial arts including Eddie Alvarez, Caol Uno, and Tatsuya Kawajiri.
He is known as an iconic figure, a living legend with an overpowering ground game. Prior to joining ONE Championship in 2012, Aoki had already won titles at WAMMA, DREAM, and Shooto.
When he made his ONE Championship debut against France’s Arnaud “The Game” LePont, many had predicted Aoki to quickly take over ONE’s lightweight division, then headed by fellow Japanese kingpin Kotetsu “No Face” Boku.
In just a few bouts, Aoki was able to do exactly that, capturing the title with a second-round submission over Boku in 2013. Now Aoki faces a new challenge in Wiratchai.
“I am confident in my abilities and believe that I can beat any lightweight in ONE Championship. I always just focus on the opponent I have in front of me but if given the chance to fight for the title once again, I am confident I will get it back,” Aoki said beaming with confidence.
“He [Wiratchai] is a strong opponent and I look forward to getting into the cage with him. I respect all my opponents.”
Aoki is for many, the face of Asia in the cage. He holds an incredible portfolio of submission wins, with over 75% of his overall victories coming within the distance. To say that Aoki is a dangerous fighter is a massive understatement.
But despite his many accomplishments and achievements, Aoki is still constantly looking to improve. He is constantly training and open to learning. For the 35-year-old, challenging himself and testing his abilities against the best is why he competes. To be the best he can be, this is Aoki’s definition of being a true martial artist.
“A champion is constantly improving their game and being humble enough to learn new techniques by watching other fighters,” Aoki explained. “To become a champion you must always work hard to improve and become the best martial artist you can be.”
If Aoki wins this Friday night, however, he inches closer to a title shot, and challenges will only get tougher from here on out. There are huge obstacles up ahead and Aoki is willing to face all of them.
“I want to be the best martial artist I can possibly be. I’ve been a martial artist for most of my life and I always will be. The goal of martial arts is to continue to improve and push the boundaries of what’s possible,” Aoki concluded.