Shinya Aoki is training for one of the biggest fights of his life, when he challenges Kotetsu Boku for the ONE FC Lightweight title at Kings & Champions in Singapore on April 5, but the Japanese submission specialist showed his light-hearted side last week by dressing up as a school girl in a “Harlem Shake” video.
The former Dream and Shooto champion has left a trail of broken limbs and unconscious bodies behind him in his MMA career and is renowned for being a ruthless competitor who won’t hesitate to injure opponents, but he says he doesn’t take life quite as seriously as perhaps people think,
“The video was fun. Evolve MMA is like a family, and everyone there is my friend and we always like to joke about like this. Just because you train very hard as a team does not mean you cannot enjoy some fun moments with your friends,” he told the Post.
Its hard to associate the famous images of Aoki taunting Japanese rival Mizuto Hirota after breaking his arm in a fight on December 31, 2009, with the YouTube footage of him being spanked by a fully grown man in a wedding dress. But Aoki maintains he is preparing properly ahead of his showdown at the Singapore Indoor Arena.
“I train every day at Evolve MMA with world champions in Muay Thai, black belts in BJJ and world class wrestlers and boxers, and everyone pushes me to improve all the time. I also do strength and conditioning [training],” he said.
“It is not easy and that is why sometimes it is good to take a small break and do something fun like the video. But the rest of the time I am working very hard to make sure I am ready for my fight.”
At stake will be the ONE FC world lightweight title which Boku claimed last October by beating Aoki’s team-mate Zorobabel Moreira, who incidentally can be seen stomping across the screen dressed as a Roman soldier in the Harlem Shake dance.
Boku has not been shy about making people aware of his plans to knock out Aoki, but the 29-year-old, who boasts a 32-6-0-1 professional record, is taking it all in his stride.
“I am sure he wants to knock me out. Every opponent says the same thing. It is easy to talk about knocking me out, anyone can do that, but not so easy to actually do it,” he said.
Aoki also warns the Shooto veteran, whose record stands at 20-7-2, not to be lulled into a false sense of security by the video of him and his team-mates in fancy dress.
“I have been at Evolve MMA for one month already training very hard every day because Singapore is my second home and I want to win the title in front of all the people here. ONE FC is the biggest promotion in Asia now and I believe soon it will be the biggest in the world. I want to capture the belt and to keep it until the day I retire,” he said.
Aoki clearly has business to attend to on April 5, and it’s doubtful whether you will see him smiling again until he has one arm raised and a ONE FC belt strapped around his waist.