Nearly two years after Eduard Folayang finished Japanese standout Shinya Aoki to claim the ONE lightweight title, Aoki has earned another crack at the belt.
Shinya Aoki continued his impressive finishing streak on Saturday at ONE Championship: Kingdom of Heroes. In doing so, he also earned a shot at ONE’s lightweight championship, just vacated by two-division champion Martin Nguyen. And while Aoki will have to wait until March for the opportunity, when ONE debuts in his native Japan, his crack at gold is secure.
Opposite the Philippines’ Ev Ting on at Kingdom of Heroes in Bangkok, Thailand, Aoki made it seem almost effortless. In under a minute, the Japanese veteran of Pride, Dream, Strikeforce and a host of other promotions had Ting on the ground. Soon enough, he had an arm-triangle choke in place, and out went Ting. It was the third straight first round finish for Aoki. With well over twenty submission wins, he’s a scary character on the ground. Improving to 42-8 (1NC), Aoki will now wait for the winner of Eduard Folayang vs. Amir Khan next month.
Folayang (20-6), himself a former lightweight champion in ONE, is one of the few men to hold a recent win over Aoki (the other, Ben Askren, is currently retired). That fight saw Folayang win the title from the Japanese fighter. And while the chance at revenge for Aoki would no doubt be sweet, Amir Khan (11-3) has long been one of ONE’s hottest prospects. Either opponent promises an exciting challenge.
ONE Championship heads to Tokyo, Japan on March 31 of next year. It may be a long wait, but it looks to be worth it.