Shinya Aoki made his long awaited featherweight debut at ONE FC: "Total Domination" in Singapore last Friday night (Oct. 18, 2013) but things did not go entirely according to plan en route to claiming his fourth successive win. The 30 year old was on the receiving end of a knee to the groin from Cody Stevens in the opening round, which he says affected him throughout the fight.
You an see the gif of that groin strike here and Aoki, who took the best part of five minutes to recover, seriously considered quitting.
"I strongly considered it (stopping the fight). I could not breathe. All my strength was gone. The only reason I continued was because I was in Singapore and I was fighting for Evolve. Thank you for the warrior spirit of Evolve," he said.
It was Aoki's third time fighting in his adopted home of Singapore and his third win for ONE FC, but whereas in his previous outings for Asia's biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion he has scored submission victories, this time he was taken the full three rounds by a resilient Stevens.
It means Aoki is 1-0 at 145 pounds but, speaking through a translator the following day, he was frustrated that he had been unable to score the 25th stoppage win of his career and needed the benefit of the judges' decision to beat Stevens,
"It was a new experience, but my debut is not reflective of what I can do at 145 and I could not deliver my normal performance due to the groin shot. I had no strength to do anything. The groin shot robbed me of everything. I am still in pain."
Aoki enjoyed a 13 cm height advantage over Stevens and used his reach and range to good effect in the opening stages, landing a couple of teeps to the face like the one above. His team at Evolve MMA encouraged him to make the drop to 145 because they thought he would be able to use his size to good effect in the striking exchanges, but the Japanese Judoka says he was inhibited from doing so on this occasion.
"I planned to show my new skills in striking, but I could not do so after the groin shot."
While the fight clearly didn't go the way Aoki and his team had planned it, he still won a clear cut unanimous decision victory. He is still the reigning ONE FC 155-pound champion and Victor Cui stated he wants him to defend the belt at least once, but it sounds like the "Tobikan Judan" is staying right where he is,
"It (making the weight) was a lot of sacrifice for months at first, but I can do it now. 145 is my new home."