Shinya Aoki takes on James Nakashima at ONE Championship: Unbreakable on Friday, January 22nd. These two will test skills inside of Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.
Aoki has held the lightweight belt in ONE Championship on two separate occasions in addition to lightweight belts in WAMMA, Shooto, and Dream. I recently held a brief Q&A with the decorated submission grappler and below are the excerpts exchanged.
– Your opponent James Nakashima is moving down in weight after contending for the welterweight title and is one of the more proficient grapplers in ONE pound for pound. What are your feelings on his overall skill set as a martial artist?
Can’t say until we compete. Whether I praise him or critique him, nobody knows until we fight against one another come Friday.
–It’s been over a year since you’ve competed in ONE Championship when you defeated Honorio Banario in October 2019. How excited are you to make your competitive return to ONE?
Shinya Aoki is fighting. Nothing more, nothing less, and the location does not matter. I’m just here to finish what I started. Part of it being that I couldn’t get a fight for so long.
– Without overlooking Nakashima here but hypothetically which trilogy bout would you prefer, the Eduard Folayang threepeat or the Eddie Alvarez rubber match?
Neither one in particular. If I’m matched with them then I’ll fight. I’m not fighting for anyone but myself, and I’m only interested in my own personal growth.
– You’ve had such a lengthy, well-regarded run as a fighter. Are there any desired opponents or possible accomplishments you have mapped out for the remainder of your MMA career?
Kiyoshi Tamura. If this fight were to happen it would be awesome if it was held at Nippon Budokan in a ring. What I want to achieve is to be able to compete for as long as I can.
– Have been quite active lately as a pro wrestler on the DDT circuit and had a good run with their Extreme title. How has the experience been in the world of pro wrestling overall?
It’s a hobby. I simply do it for my own enjoyment. Pro-wrestling is a part of Japanese culture. It’s something that foreigners may not understand, but it’s in part an attempt to reveal a storytelling aspect of martial arts in Japan. There are plenty of people even in Japan that think martial arts is just a sport, and if people don’t actively engage and learn about the culture, Japanese martial arts is bound to eventually disappear. It’s the loser’s art.
— DDT/TJPW English Update (DTEU) (@ddtpro_eng) March 11, 2020
-You’ve held the ONE lightweight belt a couple of times and are still ranked within their top five. Where does a win here put you in relation to getting another crack at the title?
I don’t train martial arts for the sake of the belt. If there is another chance I’d like to compete for the title again. Rather than having a shot at the title, I’d rather just be able to consistently be matched up for a bout.
– Anything that you’d like to add as a parting thought as we’re wrapping up?
Let’s stay healthy and happy!
I’ve been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I’ve hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I’ve been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I’ve provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I’ve worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.