Shinya Aoki was not an unknown coming into 2008, but 2008 was his year. He exploded onto the scene during the DREAM lightweight grand prix. Two stars emerged from that tournament: Shinya Aoki and Eddie Alvarez. The two earned their way to the lightweight grand prix finals, but an injury forced Alvarez to withdraw. Joachim Hansen stepped in and defeated Aoki for the DREAM lightweight title. However, the finals bout that should have been and that everyone wanted was Aoki vs. Alvarez. K-1 Dynamite saw that fight take place. Most people expected Alvarez to dominate. The bloggers and expertc figured Alvarez’s stand up, strength, size, and all around ability would be the difference.
I hope that you have watched the video. If not it is posted below in the previous blog entry. I believe this fight showed us several things about Aoki.
1. He is the number 2 lightweight in the world behind B.J. Penn. Right now there is very little debate on that. He just beat a tough dude in Eddie Alvarez.
2. Shinya Aoki may be the craftiest MMA fighter as far as submissions go. He sat down and crab walked to Alvarez looking for a leg to take him down. Then he locked in that heel hook and didn’t let go. And who can forget the “Aokiplata” he put on Nagata. He is crafty. If he develops his striking he may become the best.
3. Anyone want to see Aoki in the cage against some of the best in the UFC? How would he do against a Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian, Joe Stevenson or Gray Maynard?
What is next for Aoki? Time will tell, but I have a feeling he has to be considered for a shot at the DREAM lightweight belt. A move to the U.S. could happen, which is what I am hoping for. Here is why: He is the number 2 lightweight in the world. There are still several interesting matches he could have in Japan. He could fight Gomi, a rubebr match with Hansen, or fight Kawajiri. However, the options are limited. He could reall become a star in the U.S. He ought to put himself in there against some fresh meat.
Anyways, Shinya Aoki proved he is no fluke, but he is the real deal.