Aoki Ready for Calvancante

By Taro Kotani Dec 19, 2007
TOKYO, Japan, Dec. 19 -- Current Shooto middleweight champion Shinya Aoki (Pictures), who will face Gesias Calvancante (Pictures) at the Yarennoka! New Year's Eve card supported by M-1 Global, held an open training session at the DEEP Dojo on Wednesday.

Though he is known as one of the most dangerous submission artists in the world, today's open training session was held in a rather unique style.

DEEP representative Shigeru Saeki introduced the purpose of the training session as "a way for Aoki to feel the Bushido spirit."

Having said so, Aoki came out wearing a karate uniform and, under the guidance of "Luiz," a karate fighter from Zendokai, went through a series of striking drills in front of the media.

Saeki also mentioned that Luiz, a participant in DEEP's Future King tournaments who was born in Brazil, was the perfect imaginary substitute for "JZ" Calvancante, the two-time K-1 HERO'S 154-pound tournament champion.

"Aoki has improved his striking and his grappling, and is best in the world," Luiz pointed out following the workout. "If he can perform the way he has during training, he will be able to win the fight."

Aoki has fought in PRIDE at 161 pounds and in Shooto at 167 pounds. He is scheduled to fight on New Year's Eve at 154, and though it is not his usual weight, Aoki said it is not a cause for concern.

"Losing weight has not been a problem for me. 73 kg was the limit for my weight class at PRIDE but 73 kg is not quite the global standard. I could have asked to fight at 73 kg but looking beyond this fight, I want to fight the best in the world. In order for to do so I felt that I needed to shift to fighting at 70 kg."

Having knowledge of Calvancante's toughness, Aoki also stressed that the fight will be a real battle.

"I want to submit him," Aoki said. "It will be either me submitting him or Calvan knocking me out. I do not want to imagine myself getting knocked out. All aspects of fighting will be tested. From striking to takedowns and grappling. Expectations are high and I want to dominate in every aspect."

Finally, Aoki strongly expressed his gratitude for the opportunity.

"Since April, I have had my share of tough times," he said. "I knew the staff members were trying to restart PRIDE. I have been able to build a trust with those staff members. I believed in them. PRIDE may have been bought, but our heart and soul were not bought out. I am just happy that I can fight again."
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