In the high-octane world of combat sports, few fighters have carved a niche as Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki has. While he’s most renowned for his mixed martial arts achievements, Aoki’s tenacity sees him consistently venture into the territory of the world’s elite submission grapplers. His past opponents list reads like a who’s who of grappling, featuring names like Kade Ruotolo and Garry Tonon. Now, another marquee matchup beckons as Aoki prepares to face Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sensation, Mikey “Darth Rigatoni” Musumeci, at the much-anticipated ONE Fight Night 15: Tawanchai vs. Superbon.
Slated for October 6 at the iconic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, the stakes couldn’t be higher. While no titles will be on the line, pride, reputation, and the allure of a significant win will undoubtedly spur both warriors on.
In a conversation with onefc.com, Aoki expressed his enthusiasm, “I am really looking forward to the match on October 6 against Mikey Musumeci, and I am excited to meet him in the ring in Thailand. I hope we can make a good 10 minutes for both of us, so see you then, Mikey.”
Aoki’s credentials in the fighting world are impeccable. Not only does he boast black belts in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and judo, but his fierce submission game has become the stuff of legends in MMA circles. The veteran brings to the table a unique MMA-inspired grappling style, which he feels could introduce an element of unpredictability to the clash.
Elaborating on this, Aoki said, “Because my style of grappling is specialized for MMA, I think it’s a different style of grappling from the way other people do it today. Simply put, the difference between MMA and submission grappling is that MMA has strikes, so we could get hit, so we’ll go with positions where we don’t get hit. But with grappling, we don’t have strikes, so we have more choices of position than we do in MMA.”
Yet, Aoki is under no illusion regarding the enormity of the challenge Musumeci poses. The young BJJ maestro, with his eclectic mix of sweeps, submissions, and particularly lethal guard game, is a formidable opponent. Aoki, ever the tactician, has clearly been doing his homework, noting, “I think that being flexible and able to attack from the bottom in a variety of ways is [Musumeci’s] strong point. I think the rules in ONE fit Mikey very well. If you’re on the ground and attack from below, you won’t get a negative point. In that sense, I think the rule set is a plus for him.”
As for his strategy going into the bout, Aoki remains resolute in his approach. “In this match, I won’t apply psychological techniques or cheap tricks. I will just get in the ring wearing only my pants and give a performance to show who I am. It will be a match where we will forcefully fight each other. I am determined to do my best against him.”
The physical dynamics of the match are also intriguing. Aoki, substantially bulkier, will enter the bout with a weight advantage of approximately 30 pounds over Musumeci. Such disparities, while seemingly significant, are not rare in the world of sport jiu-jitsu. Renowned events like IBJJF and ADCC frequently feature openweight clashes, showcasing that skill often trumps size.
Musumeci, the reigning ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Champion, is a force of nature. His track record in the ONE Championship is an ode to his skills and determination. Having submitted three out of his five adversaries, and fresh off a victory against Jarred Brooks, Musumeci’s momentum is palpable.
On the other side of the spectrum, Aoki, a combat sports stalwart, comes with an enviable experience of 58 MMA matches. Seventeen of these have been under the ONE banner, further cementing his legacy. Yet, recent encounters have tested his resilience. Despite this, Aoki’s spirit remains indomitable. The upcoming match offers him a platform not just to demonstrate his skill but to potentially write another illustrious chapter in his storied career.