Shinya Aoki Eyes 2010 Strikeforce DebutReigning DREAM and WAMMA Unified Lightweight Champion Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki may soon compete inside a Strikeforce cage, as the colourful submission ace will be attending this Saturday’s Strikeforce: “Fedor vs Rogers” event and aims to make his Strikeforce debut at some point early next year.

Having most recently won the third bout of a trilogy with Joachim “Hellboy” Hansen to claim the DREAM Lightweight Championship, Aoki will now look to shine against the top lightweights in Strikeforce.

Aoki (22-4-0, 1 NC) was an early favourite to win the 2008 DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix, but was defeated by tournament alternate Hansen in the finals. Aoki had previously submitted Hansen with a Gogoplata – the first successful Gogoplata in PRIDE history – at PRIDE Shockwave 2006.

He rebounded with three straight wins and captured the WAMMA Unified Lightweight Championship in a bout with Eddie Alvarez at K-1 Dynamite!! 2008 on New Year’s Eve last year.

In April, Aoki moved up in weight and entered the 2009 DREAM Welterweight Grand Prix, but was quickly and brutally dispatched of by old rival Hayato “Mach” Sakurai in just 27 seconds.

While the ever-emotional Aoki was clearly distraught following the loss to Sakurai, he once again returned to his winning ways with a methodical decision victory over fellow submission wizard Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro at Dream.10 in a fight that saw Aoki display significantly improved striking but none of his usual ground prowess.

The victory led to the rubber match with Hansen at Dream.11. In a back-and-forth battle that was almost too close to call, Aoki finished the fight with an armbar with just four seconds remaining.


Known as much for his colourful ring attire as for his incredible submissions, Aoki has earned leagues of fans in his native Japan, but there are those who question his heart and will to compete. When faced with adversity, Aoki has broken down or embellished injuries in the past, which has not endeared him to some.

Fans in North America who are not overly familiar with Aoki’s career will soon get the chance to see him compete inside a Strikeforce cage, though it is not known whether he will be permitted to wear his full-length tights in competition or not. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has previously stated that it is an issue for the athletic commissions to decide.

While Aoki’s striking is not on the level of current Strikeforce stars Josh “The Punk” Thomson (Lightweight Champion) and Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez (Interim Lightweight Champion), Aoki’s ground game surpasses all challengers in Strikeforce, with the possible exception of Ribeiro, who recently joined the Strikeforce ranks himself.


Aoki aims to debut for the promotion in early 2010 and a number of tough fights already await him.