For Shinya Aoki, his battle with Yoshihiro Akiyama at ONE X is about separating realism from grandeur.
The former ONE Lightweight World Champion will face off against “Sexyama” in a battle of Japanese MMA legends this Saturday, 26 March, and he believes the two of them approach the sport very differently.
More specifically, Aoki thinks the 46-year-old has exhibited some self-centered qualities – and that’s created an intense desire to compete against him.
“Tobikan Judan” said:
“The story starts from a connection in 2008, but the situation then and the situation now is completely different. Our positions and status are different too, so I’m not too concerned with that. Simply, there was a promotion called DREAM. Within that, I didn’t like when there was someone who only thought of themselves. In that sense, the conflicting positions in the way we are is still present. We’re on opposite ends. That’s what makes it interesting.”
Although enigmatic in many ways, Aoki is straightforward in that he lives for combat, and everything else comes secondary. He doesn’t care about clothes or followers – only about how his training translates to competition.
On the other hand, he doesn’t think “Sexyama” takes it as seriously and believes that his image is more important than being in the trenches.
The 38-year-old said:
“Akiyama says he’s an active fighter, but there were times when he wasn’t fighting. He doesn’t like it much, I think. I’ve been doing it because I like it.
“Akiyama is this cool-looking guy. It’s either you become cool based on the amazing things you do or accomplish, or be cool with the lavish things in life. I find this interesting. It’s what you are based on, I suppose. It’s quite superficial. Even if you dress up or act cool, in the end, there is only the real deal.
“When it comes to something real, you’ll see the difference between Shinya Aoki – who only speaks harsh truths and is living in a real world – with those who only sugarcoat stuff.”
Shinya Aoki Ready To Make History In Sexyama Clash
The contrast between Shinya Aoki’s and Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama’s personalities has fueled their rivalry, and “Tobikan Judan” thinks it has also increased the anticipation around their contest on the ONE X: Grand Finale card.
The #3-ranked lightweight contender has added to that intrigue with his passionate callouts of the Japanese-South Korean icon, and he’s glad to finally square off with “Sexyama” after so many years of waiting for the matchup.
“Speaking of my performance at “Road to ONE” (where Aoki confronted “Sexyama” and said he didn’t have much time left), I was kind of upset because Akiyama hadn’t made a decision to fight me or not. I didn’t trust [his answer that he would take the fight when he was ready] because I think Akiyama is two-faced.
“I know I made a pretty harsh comment at that time. What I wanted people to understand is that there’s a reason behind every person’s decision, but I think the comment that I made really went viral in Japan. For me, it’s like I’m looking for the answer after all these years. I feel like this fight is a must, that’s why I think I need it.”
Now, just days away from their epic lightweight clash at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Aoki can feel the buzz surrounding it.
The Evolve MMA athlete doesn’t want to predict the future, but he’s ready to play his part on an epic card that will go down as one of the greatest in all of martial arts.
“This match will be a part of Japanese history. That’s why I think it’s very irrelevant about what I think of Akiyama.
“To put it simply, I need to be careful during the match. It’s not the opponent but rather yourself. I need to be careful with my actions. I don’t really care about how I win, as long as I win. But of course there’s a mixed feeling of wanting to win and being scared at the same time.”