(Sure, he looks like a bum, but he’s got a golden radio voice. PicProps: SBNation)
More good stuff out on Sunday from MMA Fighting Japanese correspondent Daniel Herbertson, who debuts a new weekly, notebook-style feature chock full of overseas news tidbits. Item No. 1? According to D-Herb – citing those ever-present “sources close to the fighter” — Dream lightweight champion and notorious a-hole Shinya Aoki is considering hanging up the fingerless gloves after his embarrassing knockout loss to Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima at K-1 Dynatmite!!! 2010 on New Year’s Eve.
You’ll remember this bout as the “special rules” contest that alternated a three-minute kickboxing round followed by a five-minute round under Dream rules. You know, kind of like they do it on “Bully Beatdown.” You’ll also recall that Aoki clearly came out with a game plan to just fuck around during round one, waste as much time as possible with copious rule-breaking and rely on the impotent Japanese referee to not penalize him for it. It was a strategy that worked like clockwork until the opening bell of round two, when Nagashima knocked him stiff with a knee as he shot in for a takedown. On this side of the Pacific, it seemed like an obvious case of karma being a complete bitch. At home, it doesn’t sound like Aoki is taking it too well.
Herbertson reports that in the wake of the loss the grappling champion was forced to delete his Twitter account due to unrelenting taunts from Nagashima fans. Real classy, you guys. After deleting his personal account (@waoki), Aoki established a new, more private presence on Twitter under the alias @jyotaronawo, Herbertson writes. So yeah, that seems like a pretty weird thing to do. Maybe Aoki just can’t live without reading Phil Baroni’s countless daily affirmations.
But here’s the real kicker: Aoki has also allegedly “privately expressed” a desire to walk away from MMA competition to focus his attention on his job as an instructor at the Deep gym. Should we buy that? Maybe, maybe not, according to Herbertson:
“Despite Aoki’s apparent depression, if I were a betting man, I’d wager that we would see a return of the Baka Survivor in 2011,” he writes. “FEG are currently undergoing restructuring and planning and we should know more about the future of the promoter and lightweight ace by the end of January.”
Aoki admittedly had a pretty terrible 2010. He actually went 3-1 in legitimate MMA competition but essentially got destroyed in his highest profile fight (at least as far as we Americans are concerned, and we all know the universe revolves around us), against Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez in April. He’s still hanging around the middle of most analysts’ Top 10 lists, but he sure didn’t win friends and influence people with his performance against Nagashima to close out the calendar year.
Given a few seconds to think about it (and really that’s all we’re willing to invest at this point) we guess the MMA world is more interesting with Aoki in it, but we’ll go ahead and take this report as another tiny piece of the puzzle that maybe the Man in Tights’ heart just isn’t in it anymore.