Shinya Aoki would love to have a chance at reclaiming the ONE lightweight world title from reigning champion Christian Lee. First, the Japanese MMA icon will have to contend with dangerous Russian grappler Saygid Izagakhmaev. The two will square off inside the Circle at ONE 163 on Saturday, November 19th.
Izagakhmaev will look to keep his undefeated run inside the Circle intact, while 'Tobikan Judan' aims to get back into the win column following a second-round knockout loss to Yoshihiro Akiyama in his last MMA outing at ONE X.
During his appearance at the ONE 163 press conference, Shinya Aoki spoke about his opponent, who he believes is the most dangerous man in the lightweight division not named Christian Lee:
“Saygid is a strong fighter. I believe outside of Christian Lee, Saygid is the most dangerous opponent in this lightweight division right now. But for me, it is more like fighting against myself. Fighting is to see how strong you are. That’s how I’ve been fighting for this long in my career. And I believe I can express my strength through this match as well.
“Honestly, when I see martial arts in Japan, I feel like most of our fighters would fight for all the attention and benefit. But I want to show you guys what fighting is. You can expect that from me.”
Watch Shinya Aoki's highlight reel below:
Saygid Izagakhmaev respects Shinya Aoki, but plans to retire him at ONE 163
When Saygid Izagakhmaev steps into the Circle with Shinya Aoki at ONE 163 in November, he will have one goal in mind. Send the 39-year-old combat sports star into retirement. During a press conference for ONE 163 in Japan, Izagakhmaev said:
“I am happy to fight Shinya Aoki. Aoki is a legend in our sport. Back when I was in high school, I used to watch him fight. But with all due respect, I will retire him.”
‘Tobikan Judan’ did not take kindly to Saygid Izagakhmaev’s comments and responded to the Russian submission machine, suggesting that his retirement is not for anyone to decide:
"I know I’m facing so tough opponent. But I know this is something I have to do. That is my position right now. I will do my best. He [Izagakhmaev] will send me retirement? It’s not your business actually."
Watch Saygid Izagakhmaev's debut below: