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This Is Why Shinya Aoki and American MMA Need Each Other

Shinya Aoki
(There’s a reason the Japanese version of The Fonz was never as popular.)

Because of his limited English skills and the general lack of western media access to him, we don’t get to hear from Shinya Aoki in his own words all that often. As a recent interview with Japan’s Gong Magazine (then translated for Fighter’s Only) confirms, that’s a damn shame. Aoki more or less refused to get bogged down in the normal/boring technical discussion about how his style matches up with Gilbert Melendez’s, and instead cut right to what he feels the stakes are in this bout:

“Japan’s best comes to USA. This is amazing…my technical side is evidenced by my long career. It is the same as my old fights so it does not need to be discussed. Instead, the most important point is this: ‘If Aoki loses, it is over for Japan’

“I love Japan and it is certain that if I lose, Japan will become a colony of US MMA. Some maniacs say that USA’s MMA is the best but I do not worship US MMA so this is big war to me, just like my fight against [Sengoku champion] Hirota [on New Year’s Eve].”

So, let’s see what we’ve got here. Completely overblown nationalist rhetoric? Check. Inflated sense of self-importance coupled with a reference to yourself in the third person? Check. Giving us a simple, but compelling narrative to explain why this fight matters? Total check.

This is exactly the kind of thing that will play wonderfully in the American MMA scene, which almost just makes you sad that we haven’t had more Aoki in our lives before now. But let’s not kid ourselves, Aoki needs the U.S. even more than we need him. He admits that he’s run out of interesting fights in Dream. There are a couple of intriguing possibilities for him in Strikeforce, and of course the talent sharing arrangement between the two organizations means we could see some of those fights on Japanese soil as well.

But what Aoki really needs now are fresh challengers and a fresh narrative.  The whole, ‘I’ll kill you if Dream tells me to’ stuff? That doesn’t work as well against other Dream fighters, and we already saw what he did to his rival in the other major Japanese promotion. He needs new objects to prove his fierce allegiance against.  If he can convince fans that the fight is a struggle of national pride, so much the better.

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ghostboner- April 8, 2010 at 2:49 pm
@ Bare Grylls - Mmmmm drink.... Sounds good. You get the drinks and I'll give you the fiver for some Aoki hate.

@Nut Puncher - I noticed none of the fighters you listed were one dimensional Jiu Jitsu guys... Also I thought Aoki was a Tobikan Judan?

I'm not saying he needs to expand his skills, you can be one dimensional all you want as long as you are willing to actually fight. I don't like him because I think sitting on your ass and scooting is lame. Also I think he likes to bust peoples limbs, which is super dick-ish. Just my opinion, don't try to punch me in the nuuts.
nooger- April 8, 2010 at 10:35 am
well said nut puncher, well said.

That'll do pig.
Nut Puncher 9000- April 8, 2010 at 8:12 am
Listening to all of you talk about Aoki being one dimensional and that he needs to expand his game before you become a fan of his makes me think you need to open your eyes just a bit.

US Champions:
1 - A. Silva - Stand-up is all he needs to win
2 - Brock Lesnar - Wrestling is all he needs to win
3 - Machida - Stand up
4 - GSP - Wrestling
5 - Penn - Stand up (flexibility)

I can even go further back to previous champions/legends:
Randy Couture - Wrestling (which he used to nuetralize and dirty box)
Chuck Liddel - Stand up
Tito Ortiz - Wrestling
Matt Hughes - Wrestling

Now although these fighters may have other skills, it is only one skill that defines them and wins them fights. The bitching about this point is beyond me and it has gotten to the point where most of you commenting on Aoki's one dimensional fighting style are also complaining about how GSP has gotten boring with his wrestling dominance.

Now before I get the legion of tards telling me that our fighters possess other skills that they just never use, I would like to remind you all that they dont NEED them. Just like Aoki doesnt need anything but his Jits. Penn is probably the only current Champion that consistantly strikes leading to a submission finish.

I think Americans just like to feel like our skill sets are superior because it has been a long time since we have had a dominant Jits fighter other than Maia, and he is fighting for our title as a one dimensional fighter...

@All the UFC fans vrs MMA fans bullshit

-Would you call a fan of the NFL a fake fan because they dont follow the superstars of the Arena League, CFL, etc?
-How about a baseball fan that only follows the MLB and has no, or very little, knowledge of the minors, etc?

Stop trying to seperate yourselves as a higher echelon fan because you follow the smaller organizations. Fans of the UFC, and only the UFC, can be just as passionate as you UFC haters that follow the no-namers in other organizations.
fatbellyfrank- April 7, 2010 at 4:56 pm
Food for thought, Fight lynx top 10 rankings have Aoki at#6 and Melendez#7, I know rankings don’t count for dick once the action starts but you don’t get top 10 without some ability, FYI the five guys ranked above Aoki are Sherk, Edgar, Maynard, KenFlo and BJ, Gomi doesn't even make the list, so don’t let his lacklustre performance cloud your judgement with Aoki, just cause they come from the same place doesn't necessarily mean there abilities’ are the same. Should be a pretty damm good fight, oh and Yeti Stomp, I thought this was a Strikeforce card?
Yeti Stomp- April 7, 2010 at 4:39 pm
I can't believe nobody said it yet (or if so, I didn't see it), so I will: I think the itchy-vagina butt scoot will fail him here once he's facing a top competitor, and I daresay that he's going to be dominated like all the other Japanese stars when they come over here.

Brazil, the Brits/Europeans and the Canadians are doing alright for themselves, but what is it that overwhelms Japanese fighters, in general, when they fight in the UFC?

Dunno. But Aoki's success in the UFC is going to be limited now that he's hanging with the best of the best in the world.
Houstons db- April 7, 2010 at 4:36 pm
yea, what he said..
SuckMyShinya- April 7, 2010 at 4:08 pm
Flagged as spam?! Really CP??

My heart.... She breaks....
Bare Grylls- April 7, 2010 at 3:06 pm
Hmm, that's an intriguing offer my friend. Lets talk about it over a drink.
iDestroy- April 7, 2010 at 2:21 pm
Aoki's the effin' man.
Cestus84- April 7, 2010 at 2:11 pm
"Whos he kidding, after seeing gomi's preformance i dont think japanese guys stand a chance in america's awesomeness. other then sexy yama!"
Aoki isnt Gomi, nuff said.
ghostboner- April 7, 2010 at 2:08 pm
@ Bare Grylls - I'll give you $5 to hate Aoki. How about now?
Bare Grylls- April 7, 2010 at 1:49 pm
I love Aoki and nothing any of you say can make me feel otherwise, so stop trying!
ghostboner- April 7, 2010 at 1:48 pm
@Rex - Amen Bra. Amen.

I cannot get behind someone who scoots around on their ass because their vagina itches, and also because they are one dimensional. Also, I kind of like Gil.
Chiggs- April 7, 2010 at 1:47 pm
Hey apparently its Lyle Beerbohm vs Vitor Ribeiro, Fancy Pants vs Shaolin!!! Gonna be freakin awesome test for Lyle, gonna be a tough call as to who takes it, Apparently its on for SF's May 15th card. DAMN if true that card is gonna be super stacked!!!
Chiggs- April 7, 2010 at 1:27 pm
Agree for sure OBI, although if Kawajiri can/could get his shit together he could still be a force as well. Always exciting to watch, always there to put on a good fight imo. Just never gets the attention or publicity of others from Japan but is a facking wrecking machine!! Hell ya dont get a name like "Crusher" for nothing hehe. Hope to see him in the SF cage soon too as he's underrated an can/will surprise alot of peeps I think.
As for Aoki vs Gil, Aoki is takin Gils arm home for a souveiner all the while flippin him off with Gils own mangled arm!!! Either way, SF's card is freakin awesome an cant fuckn wait.
Defender- April 7, 2010 at 12:01 pm
@MMA -

I see what you are saying, and I can get behind that. I think it's pretty clear this is the fight most mma fans are most looking forward to.

So now we have had the Shields/Hendo thread...and this is the Aoki one. Ben(s) can you start up a Mousasi/Mo one for us now? :)
MMAINMYBLOOD- April 7, 2010 at 11:36 am
Aoki can be destroyed...only a Penn Aoki match will show this Penn can make Aoki stand and then you will see his weakness. Penn and Aoki may be equals on the ground but stand up? Aoki is outclassed. No one he has fought at this point has had any real take down defense. I am not just a "UFC fan" but a fan of the fighters. No matter the promotion I like alot of other fighters it just happens that a majority of the best fighters go to the UFC for big paydays and the fame of fighting for a big promotion.
El Guapo- April 7, 2010 at 11:34 am
Melendez should bust a Tommy Boy on Aoki- Just let him have a free crack or four and laugh them off. "If I wanted a kiss I'd call your mother."

Who, or what, hits harder? Shinya or some good herb??
MMAINMYBLOOD- April 7, 2010 at 11:24 am
@Defender Point well taken but by no means am I celebrating one and condemning the other I say that because I understand cultural differences. I just guess my point is this I expected more from Lesnar as he is American so I am a harsher critic. He is disrespecting MMA and giving the UFC a bad rep with his behavior. Dana keeps him since he gets the ppv buys, had he been Sobral he would have been released. Honestly, if Brock was more like Captain America (humble,respectful) I would not hate on him so much.
ReX13- April 7, 2010 at 11:03 am
Nooger>> I think most "UFC fans" (and i know what you mean) also have no idea who Melendez is, either.


To clarify: i used to dig Aoki pretty hard--for some reason i enjoy watching guys use the rubber guard. I don't mean to take anything away from him--he's absolutely a highly skilled guy who is dangerous on the ground, and he likes to take guys' arms home with him. I'm cool with his technical submissions--seems guys would get a clue and start tapping at some point once Aoki has your arm. If they don't Aoki will keep cranking it until the ref stops it. But after watching his Dream fights, i begin to pick up the scent of pussy, and i just don't respect it. I don't hate him, but i do think he's overrated, both in MMA media and his own mind. I may be wrong about that, but until i see more toughness, i'm not gonna love him.

yeah, yeah, tl;dr. i know.
JCVD as Timecop- April 7, 2010 at 11:03 am
Ah, the things I wanted to say were said while I was having login issues.
If you only recently found out who Aoki is, you should probably go back to watching WWE.
Defender- April 7, 2010 at 11:02 am

I tend to be really wordy when I post...and I was trying to keep things to somewhat of a minimum.

I can certainly see your point with the culture difference between Japan and over here. However, this sport crossed those boundaries and should be held to the same regard everywhere. Brock was way over the top with what he said after the fight. It's when Brock went over to Mir and helped make it abundantly clear who the winner was. Which is exactly what Aoki did.

My guess is I sent mixed signals in my post...I don't feel very (or even a fast majority) of fights should end that way. In fact...the fewer the better as it brings a sense of sincerity to it. Matt Hughes and Frank Trig comes to mind as a perfect example. Hughes is one of my all time faves and a hell of a nice guy...but I really wanted him to keep hating Trig after that fight. I really was sold on it and felt like it was the real deal.

Aoki legitimately hated his opponent last year and it clearly showed. But for some reason when Brock hates his...people climb on up their soapboxes and preach about what a dick he is.

T_Durdan said it well. He's "Tito-esque". Aoki and Brock are doing the same thing...just their own version of it.

*sigh* I'm not trying to bring Brock up for any other reason than what he did vs. what Aoki did. They are similar to a point and for some reason one is celebrated while one is scorned. It's just strange to me is all.
nooger- April 7, 2010 at 10:52 am
ARGH I frequent this site probably 20 times a day, and I always read the comments, but I never decide to comment.... I have to now.

You can tell the "UFC" Fans from the "MMA" Fans here. All of the UFC fans have no idea who Aoki is (I don't blame them, they'd know who he is if they were MMA Fans and not "UFC" Fans), and what he'll do to Melendez. Everyone just thinks Melendez will run all over Aoki... you are in for a rude awakening. I agree that he's Japan's last real chance, but he'll tap out Melendez in the second round.

MMAINMYBLOOD- April 7, 2010 at 10:50 am
@ T Durden beats a top five with his stand up? WTF?? thats like saying Machida isn't shit until he lays and prays on a top five LHW. Its not his style. Aoki usually dictates where the fight takes place. He is that good. He has recently become popular to the casual fan because of the arm break. But if you have been following mma for more than the last six months you would know that Aoki has been the best LW in Japan and a Dream match for Penn for a couple of years now. He is a baddass and if he can get his opponent down and they cant get back up and he breaks something they just weren't good enough. If its boxing you want check out the super six tourney its on showtime and ppv.
MMAINMYBLOOD- April 7, 2010 at 10:40 am
@Defender I Would love to say I agree with something you just said... but you mention Brock in the same paragraph as Aoki? I know why you said it but even you know that Shinya himself would feel offended. I personally watch mma and have as well as boxing for the competition, and the display of skill of the athlete. I dont watch it to see someone hold a grudge and be a complete dick. Its a sport and there is such a thing as sportsmanship. Like any other fight fan, or fighter fan I like to see a good rivalry but there is a difference. What Brock did was unprofessional, and he is just now realizing that this is not WWE. What Aoki did was wrong by our standards, but his is a different culture,, Japs are a different breed I cant say that about Brock he is American and knows better. If you get caught up in the promo and actually believe the hype then you should step back and realize its just hype they dont really hate one another, unless one or both of them are dicks which Brock clearly is. I agree with Cro Cop "every win for Brock Lesnar is a defeat for MMA."