Shinya Aoki's Blogs
Pederneiras: Aoki-‘Chiquerim’ Scratched due to Visa Troubles
By: Chris Nelson
Willamy Freire will not compete for Dream in May. | Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog.com
Former Shooto 154-pound world champion Willamy “Chiquerim” Freire will have to wait to make his return to the Japanese ring.
Despite a Monday report from MMAWeekly.com stating that Freire would meet Dream lightweight ace Shinya Aoki at Dream’s May 29 “Fight for Japan” event, Sherdog.com has learned that the 23-year-old Brazilian will be unable to make the engagement in Saitama, Japan.
“‘Chiquerim’ has a problem with his passport,” Freire’s trainer, Nova Uniao leader Andre Pederneiras, tells Sherdog.com. “His passport expired and he doesn’t have time to get a new one.”
Freire, who captured Shooto gold with an October 2009 stoppage of Kenichiro Togashi, vacated the title in May 2010 following his first defense against Yusuke Endo. The Fortaleza native had an 11-fight win streak snapped by Waylon Lowe in his January UFC debut and, in a surprising turn, was released by the promotion after only one fight. Read more
Aoki Quits Twitter
By: Chris Nelson
Shinya Aoki (right) | Taro Irei/Sherdog.com
When it comes to trash talk and taunting, Shinya Aoki can dish it out. But it appears the Dream lightweight champion can no longer take the barrage of online ridicule over his most recent loss.
On Thursday, Aoki shut down his personal account on social networking site Twitter, @waoki, following an onslaught of insults and mockery from fans of Yuichiro Nagashima. Aoki was brutally knocked out by the K-1 Max kickboxer in their mixed rules bout at K-1 Dynamite: The Power of Courage 2010 on Dec. 31 in Saitama, Japan.
The rules of Aoki’s match with Nagashima called for one three-minute kickboxing round, followed by a five-minute mixed martial arts round. Predictably, grappling specialist Aoki was on the defensive for much of the first period. The “Tobikan Judan” clinched, ducked, ran, and even dropkicked to avoid Nagashima’s strikes. At the start of the second stanza, Aoki rushed across the ring and shot for a takedown, only to be crushed by a jumping knee from Nagashima which knocked Aoki out just four seconds into the round.
A cosplayer who almost always appears in public dressed as a female anime character, Nagashima possesses a rabid online fan base comprised of many other cosplay and anime enthusiasts. Those fans jumped on the opportunity to mock Aoki continually after the New Year’s Eve loss, on both Twitter and message boards.
“I think I’m done with Twitter,” Aoki wrote plainly before deleting the account, adding that he would continue to communicate with fans through Japanese social networking service Mixi. Read more
Primer: New Year’s in Japan
By: Jake Rossen
Kazushi Sakuraba | Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog.com
If Ryan Seacrest happened to be a major celebrity in Japan, he would eventually be offered a substantial sum to be beaten severely in any number of the country’s traditional New Year’s Eve fighting events. The Japanese watch television in huge numbers that night, and promotions have hired everyone from actors to pro wrestlers to fighters dressed in costumes in order to draw attention away from the standard music and variety programming.
Does it work? For a long time, it did: any combination of Sumo, Bob Sapp, or Olympic champions would usually produce tremendous ratings. But the decline of real fighters and the increasing reluctance (possibly related to the shrinking pay stubs) of the “special attractions” has taken its toll.
It’s a real sign of MMA’s erosion in Japan that only one event -- K-1’s Dynamite -- is actually airing New Year’s Eve; the more serious Sengoku takes place Dec. 30. In both cases, fans can see a series of competitive fights. But in K-1’s arena, the need for ratings will prompt the usual stunt work: Shinya Aoki will be facing Yuichiro Nagashima in a fight that alternates kickboxing rounds with MMA rules and Bob Sapp will be wrestling Sumo great Shinichi Suzukawa in an orchestrated entertainment-only intermission. Both are likely to dwarf the night’s most legitimate bout, a lightweight meeting between Strikeforce’s Josh Thomson and Tatsuya Kawajiri.
Stateside, most of the attention has been directed at Todd Duffee taking a late-notice bout against Alistair Overeem. Duffee was touted as a UFC prospect before a shock KO at the hands of Mike Russow; reported head-butting with UFC management led to his release. But Duffee can strike, and he’s a few levels above the kind of competition you’d expect Overeem to accept only three weeks after a grueling K-1 tournament. Too good to believe, actually. Like most of the Japanese product, it’s subject to change. Read more
Shinya Aoki Has Problems
By: Jake Rossen
Shinya Aoki vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri: Taro Irei/Sherdog.com
It’s not uncommon for Japanese promotions to assign press escorts and censor more incendiary statements by fighters.
Someone had the weekend off. In comments translated by Gryphon.com, Shinya Aoki -- Saturday’s biggest winner in Dream thanks to an Achilles lock submission over a highly regarded Tatsuya Kawajiri -- expressed a somewhat disturbing view of the fight’s finish.
“I knew Kawajiri never taps so I could not win without breaking his bone,” he said. “I was hoping for an open-fracture."
Yes, hope: in the same way we maintain pleasant optimism for good health, a better economy, and family success, Aoki hopes he can send fighters to an orthopedic surgeon. Maybe he gets kickbacks.
By way of pattern, Aoki was also unrepentant when he damaged the arm of Mizuto Hirota last New Year’s. (He actually made faces and stuck out his middle finger, not typically signs of regret.) Aoki’s glee in hurting people is approaching sadism unseen since David Abbott was smiling as he tried to push Paul Varelan’s face through the fence.
Most fighters consider injury to be a side effect of winning: no particular enjoyment is taken, and athletes are usually quick to express remorse for gruesome results. Aoki is different: guilt is not on his menu.
There was some relief in Abbott’s tendencies because he was poorly conditioned and could usually be torn off of someone he downed. Aoki, like most submission specialists, can tie an opponent up for almost as long as he wishes. If the objective is to snap something, that’s a radically dangerous skill set to have. But with Dream struggling, punishing Aoki isn’t in their best interests. He’s got something close to a pass. At least he can’t go for the groin. Read more
Poll: Aoki Still a Threat?
Poll: Aoki vs. Kawajiri
Aoki-Kawajiri Announced for Dream 15
By: Loretta Hunt
Tatsuya Kawajiri will get his awaited title shot against Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki at Dream 15 on July 10 at the Super Saitama Arena in Saitama, Japan, the promotion announced on Saturday.Read more
The 32-year old “Crusher” rides a four-fight win streak into his first championship bout with the promotion. Kawajiri’s more notable performances include wins over divisional standouts Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante and Joachim Hansen.
Of his last 13 fights, Kawajiri has only dropped bouts to Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez.
Aoki has won three of his last four bouts, dropping a five-round unanimous decision to Melendez at Strikeforce “Nashville” on April 17 in Nashville, Tenn. The 27-year-old submission strategist previously bested Hansen and Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro, as well as Sengoku lightweight champion Mizuto Hirota. Aoki’s handling of Hirota last New Year’s Eve at K-1 “Dynamite” was considered exceptionally brutal, as Aoki broke Hirota’s arm with a hammerlock in 77 seconds.
Strikeforce Post-Mortem: Shields, Melendez and the Brawl to End it All
By: Jake Rossen
One of the best get-out-of-jail free cards is tenure. The longer you’ve been around, and the more you’ve dug your heels into a relationship, the more leeway you have to screw up.
A fart on a first date is bad. A fart after three years into marriage is just another Thursday.
What happened in the closing moments of Strikeforce’s second CBS telecast Saturday comes without the security of long-term placement. CBS, burned once by the bizarre behavior of EliteXC employees, found itself devoting primetime minutes to Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, and a dozen other Cesar Gracie shirts descended on Jason Miller after shoves were exchanged and egos bruised. It was awkward, ugly, and hard to recover from.
This kind of schoolyard stuff is not at all out of character for impassioned athletes who are running high on macho-bravado posturing and adrenaline. Baseball teams have swarmed one another; some get rushed with a bat. NBA players have elbowed, kicked, and occasionally assaulted fans in the stands. (Never with bats, but give it time.)
Ball sports, however, have the benefit of history. We’ve never known a world without basketball, football, or boxing, and the idea that any few individuals could sink a national pastime is never given any thought. The sports columnists will scold the offenders, the footage will get some airplay, and it’s business as usual within the week. Boxing can even kill its participants (three in 2009 alone, if you’re keeping track) without much fuss.
MMA does not have this luxury. As a result, scenes like this -- which, if we’re being honest, are entertaining in their absurdity -- do nothing to enforce the idea this is an activity that deserves to occupy the public consciousness. Instead of offering perspective on his impressive, gutsy comeback win over Dan Henderson, Shields is instead left to explain why his site of victory turned into a scene from “West Side Story.”
MMA is still very much in the courtship stage of its relationship with the sports world. As of Sunday morning, it ran out of gas on a pretty major highway. Read more
Aoki: Result ‘Says Everything’
By: Brian Knapp
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki did not mince words when asked how his lopsided defeat to Gilbert Melendez reflected upon the state of Japanese mixed martial arts.
“The result of the fight says everything,” Aoki said through his translator.
Dominated for five rounds, Aoki had no answer for Melendez in the Strikeforce “Nashville” co-main event on Saturday at the Bridgestone Arena. A 28-year-old Cesar Gracie protégé, Melendez bullied him standing and on the ground, shredding the guard of one of the sport’s most feared ground fighters with tactical offense and savvy positioning. Aoki entered his stateside debut as the consensus number two lightweight in the world, the weight of a nation resting upon his shoulders.
“A lot of people may say Japanese MMA lost,” Aoki said. “I will train hard and hopefully be back. I lost completely.”
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker called the matchup, which resulted from a co-promotional effort with Japan’s Fighting and Entertainment Group, a “milestone” in mixed martial arts history. Aoki’s immediate future carries with it some certainty, as he expects to defend his Dream crown against Tatsuya Kawajiri this summer. Beyond that, he admits he would welcome a second crack at Melendez, perhaps in Japan.
“At this moment, I’d like to face Gilbert again,” said Aoki, who had not lost a decision in nearly five years. “I want to be a better fighter, so Gilbert will say, ‘I want to fight against Aoki again.’” Read more
Primer: Strikeforce 'Nashville'
By: Jake Rossen
With the dissolution of Pride and much of the big-ticket Japanese scene, the UFC has experienced virtually no major defections of talent in the past five years. Tito Ortiz threatened, but eventually relented; Fedor Emelianenko, the highest-profile missing person, was never theirs to begin with.
What is remarkable about Saturday’s Strikeforce card (their second for CBS) is that it will feature the first Zuffa-endorsed, highly-visible, highly-competitive athlete to walk away from that promotion.
Dan Henderson, while not nearly the draw of major UFC stars like Brock Lesnar and Georges St. Pierre, has still benefited enormously from the UFC’s promotional pull. His appearance against Michael Bisping at July’s UFC 100 was seen by a record 1.5 million pay-per-view households; The Wrestling Observer estimates 16 million people in total watched that event. He also notched a free-TV title merger (a loss) with Quinton Jackson in 2007. The only thing he missed was “The Ultimate Fighter” coaching position. To some minds, that’s probably a good thing.
Henderson now becomes a rare entity for a competing promotion: a face already familiar to fans. If he draws attention and becomes a dominant champion, Strikeforce’s investment will be seen as strategic and worthwhile. If he siphons energy from the crowd and tosses a brick, they’ll be mocked -- especially by Dana White -- as free-spending failures. It’s a lesson in how fragile the MMA business really is: any executive lauded for their deal-making is still at the mercy of the guys in the ring. Read more