"I would do anything to get the spotlight" - Shinya Aoki says he's always out to steal the show

Shinya Aoki is a star everytime he performs. | [Photo: The Japan Times]
Shinya Aoki is a star everytime he performs. | [Photo: The Japan Times]

No matter where Shinya Aoki is on the show, expect him to make a spectacle out of it to make sure that he’s the star by the end of it.

Over the past two decades, Aoki has dabbled in grappling, MMA and professional wrestling, rooting himself in the culture of Japanese martial arts. With his legendary stature, ‘Tobikan Judan’ has been paired with promising young stars to build up their credibility in the sport.

However, Shinya Aoki cautioned about this route, as he’s not in the business of making others famous by lying down for them. In an interview with ONE Championship, Aoki said:

“I feel bad for the other Japanese fighters. People haven't realized this important part - I would do anything to get the spotlight. So if you have a fighter you want to promote, you shouldn't book the fighter with me. They will have their spotlights taken.”

His penchant for the spectacular was on full display in his last two bouts in the Circle, as he scored two first-round submissions. The first of the two pushed him to not only be the all-time submissions leader in the promotion, but also earned him the 2021 ONE Championship Submission of the Year.

Shinya Aoki to face a fellow legend at ONE X

At ONE X, Shinya Aoki will not be building up an up-and-coming star, as his opponent has a legendary resume of his own.

The Japanese grappling star is set to face off against Yoshihiro Akiyama at the 10-year anniversary show in a heated rivalry that has been months in the making.

Akiyama is a decorated judoka, winning a gold medal in the Asian games for both South Korea and Japan. Later, he transitioned to MMA, where he competed in various promotions around the world, including the UFC.

After almost two decades in the sport, ‘Sexyama’ found his way to ONE Championship in 2018 and eventually ended up in the crosshairs of his fellow Japanese legend Aoki.

In late 2021, Aoki called out Akiyama for allegedly refusing to fight him. Akiyama countered by saying that an injury prevented him from competing, but Aoki insisted that he take the fight in December.

While their target date was moved, they are finally set to meet at the 10-year anniversary event on March 26.

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Edited by Harvey Leonard
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