In 2021, Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki proved yet again that he is ONE Championship’s premier submission specialist.
The 38-year-old grappler has shown no signs of slowing down, and he added two more tap-out victories to his impressive resume this year, giving him nine in the promotion overall – an all-time record.
And now, it’s earned the Japanese legend our 2021 Submission of the Year.
Many thought Nakashima would push Aoki to his limits in this lightweight mixed martial arts clash. After all, the elite wrestler had dropped down from welterweight and brought a well-equipped arsenal with him.
Things initially looked good for the American when he disengaged from Aoki’s first clinch and started to string his punches together. However, Nakashima got too eager, and the Japanese athlete slipped under a left hand and closed the distance again.
With his opponent pressed against the Circle Wall, “Tobikan Judan” shrugged his way behind and immediately moved to the back, controlling one of Nakashima’s legs in a triangle.
The former ONE Welterweight World Title challenger tried to fend off those advances, but Aoki was just too wily, and he climbed his way up to secure a body triangle.
At this point, the situation was dire for Nakashima. Still, he tried to fight his foe’s hands and kept his chin tucked to avoid the rear-naked choke.
Undeterred, Aoki slid his right arm across the American’s jaw and turned his head at a painful angle. He then connected his grips to squeeze and contort Nakashima’s neck, forcing the tap.
It was all over at 2:42 of the opening stanza, giving Aoki four straight victories and 29 career submissions.
It was another remarkable year for the Japanese icon, who continues to produce highlight-reel moments on the global stage. And with his legacy further cemented, Aoki is eyeing a clash of legends against Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama in 2022.