This year, Asian MMA legend Shinya Aoki celebrates 10 years with ONE Championship. In an interview with the promotion, which has served as his long-term home, Aoki looked back at some of his highlights inside the circle.
Shinya Aoki highlighted one fight in particular as his most memorable: his third fight with Eduard Folayang in April 2021. Ending their trilogy by winning the decider via armbar, Aoki had nothing but praise for his former rival.
He told ONE Championship:
“After the fight, we had a small conversation in the circle. We understand each other and where we are and who we are. I said to him, ‘One more.' He laughed. I felt we have a really good relationship between us. Both of us know this ‘one more’ has no meaning. Maybe one day, ONE will make that matchup, but we both knew that it wasn’t not going to happen anytime soon. But that word had a meaning of, 'Keep going on and one day we’ll see each other again at some point.' So, for me, 'one more' was like, 'See you again.'”
“That’s why this fight was one of the most memorable fights in my career at ONE. Maybe I am the only one seeing our relationship that way. I don’t know how Folayang took it and how he saw that interaction. But I have a strong attachment to him. Because we faced each other three times in five years. And we both faced the hardness in our life during our three fights. It was not an easy ride. We both win and lose, and feel grateful because we made these historic fights together.”
Watch the third fight between Eduard Folayang and Shinya Aoki in full below:
Shinya Aoki shares why his matches against Christian Lee and Eduard Folayang are the most special fights in his ONE career
A legend in the Asian martial arts scene, Shinya Aoki has a career record that serves as a who’s who of the sport. In his interview with ONE Championship, Aoki looked back at some of his career achievements over the years.
The grappling expert is celebrating 10 years with ONE, giving him a reason to sit down with the promotion and reminisce about his legendary career:
"The fights that I’m most proud of myself in are the fights I lost against Christian Lee and [Eduard] Folayang. It’s not easy to pick one between these fights. The reason is I believe I made these two champions. I have a strong feeling about this."
Both of his choices are, surprisingly, losses.
Eduard Folayang took Aoki's lightweight title in 2016 at ONE: Defending Honor and Christian Lee snatched his belt in 2019 at ONE: Enter the Dragon. However, ‘Tobikan Judan’ firmly believes that he unleashed the greatness of his two opponents, allowing them to take what was his. With that, he holds no shame in losing to such fierce warriors.
However, don’t think that Shinya Aoki will settle for another loss when he faces Saygid Izagakhmaev at ONE 163 on November 19. The former ONE lightweight world champion wants to prove to the rising Russian contender that he is far from done with competition.