It’s been almost six months since Shinya Aoki last competed, and it appears the time off is giving the former DREAM champion a bit of a razor’s edge as he heads into his next bout.
Aoki is scheduled to meet striker Arnaud Lepont in the main event of the upcoming ONE FC: Rise of Kings show in Singapore, and he’s fired up to get back into action.
Originally, Aoki was supposed to be part of the last ONE FC show in late August, but the promotion was unable to secure him an opponent, and so the waiting game continued.
“I leave that to my manager, I think there was a problem finding an opponent to fight me in Manila. I am very happy to be signed with ONE FC and am looking forward to fighting in Singapore because I train at the Evolve MMA camp and my friends and teammates are here. In the future I hope I will have the chance to fight in the Philippines as well, I was in Manila and the fans there seem to love MMA a lot,” Aoki told MMAWeekly.com recently.
The time off for Aoki has been spent getting better each and every day, but that doesn’t mean the sting of his last fight, a loss to Eddie Alvarez in Bellator, doesn’t still hurt.
“Sometimes it is good for your body and your mind to have a rest. I was very disappointed after that fight, I do not like to lose, it is difficult for me. I am happy to have signed with ONE FC and I expect to fight more regularly in future,” Aoki stated.
For his next fight, Aoki faces Arnaud Lepont in the main event of the ONE FC show headed to Singapore. For the weeks leading up to the fight, Lepont has stated that he’s a big fan of Aoki, and honored to face him in the cage.
Aoki’s not sure what his opponent means by ‘he’s a fan’ but he’s certainly sure of one thing – Lepont made a big mistake signing on for this fight.
“I don’t know very much about him and I don’t really care. He says he is a fan but if that is the case then fighting me is a very stupid thing to do, most of my fans want to take a photo with me but he wants to fight me? I find that very strange,” said Aoki.
“I am not a fan of Arnaud Lepont because I don’t know who he is and I think he has made a mistake by asking to fight me.”
On paper the fight looks like a lot of the past match-ups that Aoki has seen where a striker comes into the bout and doesn’t look to go to ground with the submission wizard. It’s nothing new for Aoki, but he says he might have a few surprises in store for the next opponent trying to knock him out.
“I have fought more than 30 times and every opponent has said the same thing. Before I was mainly a Jiu-Jitsu fighter but Evolve MMA has helped me to change and become an all round MMA fighter,” said Aoki. “I am sure he thinks his standup is better than mine and that he can knock me out but maybe I think the same thing too? My job is just to win but if I could knock out Arnaud Lepont that would also be fun for me.”
If plans go accordingly, Aoki hopes to get back on the winning track by defeating Lepont and then awaiting word on his next fight. While it appears there will be no major New Year’s Eve show in his native Japan this year, Aoki is just looking to stay active as he moves into 2013 after what looks like only two fights in 2012.
“That is up to ONE FC, if they want me to fight again I am ready but I know there will be a lot of opportunities in the future because I believe in ONE FC and am confident I will be able to fight regularly,” said Aoki.
“I am sure I will fight more than two times in 2013.”
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