Dream champion Shinya Aoki
will lock horns with Sengoku titleholder Mizuto
Hirota in a showdown between two of the world’s top
lightweights at K-1 “Dynamite Power of Courage 2009” on Dec. 31 at
the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
Aoki last appeared in October when he submitted Joachim
Hansen with a second-round armbar, avenging his technical
knockout loss to the Norwegian in the 2008 Dream lightweight grand
prix. The 26-year-old has posted five wins in six fights and holds
notable victories over Vitor
Ribeiro, Bellator champion Eddie
Alvarez and American Top Team dynamo Gesias
Cavalcante. Aoki has delivered 13 of his 22 wins by submission
and has solidified his place as one of the most feared ground
fighters in the sport.
Hirota, 28, has secured back-to-back quality stoppage wins over
former Sengoku champion Satoru
Kitaoka and Strikeforce veteran Mitsuhiro
Ishida. A 2008 knockout victory against former International
Fight League titleholder Ryan Schultz
strengthens his resume, which includes eight finishes. Hirota has
never been finished in 16 career bouts.
The Aoki-Hirota match was not the only high-profile tilt added to
the K-1 mix on New Year’s Eve. Tatsuya
Kawajiri will meet Kazunori
Yokota in another pivotal lightweight bout.
The 31-year-old Kawajiri has won six of his last seven fights, the
lone defeat coming to Alvarez in the 2008 “Fight of the Year.” He
counts victories over Cavalcante, Ribeiro, Hansen and UFC veterans
Eklund and Yves Edwards
among his 25 conquests. Kawajiri last competed two months ago, when
he stopped the overmatched Melchor
Manibusan on first-round strikes at Dream 11.
Yokota will carry a three-fight winning streak into the match. The
31-year-old outpointed the respected Eiji
Mitsuoka at Sengoku “Eleventh Battle” last month, maintaining
the momentum he gained with a spectacular knockout of Schultz
earlier this year. Yokota owns other noteworthy victories over
Hirota and Sengoku featherweight ace Michihiro