Why Shannon Wiratchai was crazy about Shinya Aoki

Two of the lightweight contenders of ONE Championship will co-headline “ONE: Reign of Kings” on July 27, 2018. Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai, 29, of Bangkok, Thailand will face former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki, 35, of Shizouka, Japan.

“Shinya Aoki is a legend,” Wiratchai said. “I watched him 15 years ago on the internet. I was crazy about him.”

Wiratchai positioned Aoki as one of the inspirations for sparking his love for martial arts. The Bangkok native said, “I was crazy about martial arts. I love this sport because of him.”

“Fifteen years later, I just want him to see what he has produced,” Wiratchai added. “I want to be in the cage and show my best performance. I just want to impress him like he impressed me.”

However, Aoki is at the tail end of a glorious career. Although the Japanese stalwart has mentioned previously that he would compete until he was 50, his physicality is clearly not what it used to be.

Aoki relies heavily on being able to absorb punishment long enough until the distance is closed and he is able to latch onto his opponents and bring them down to the ground. Against a dynamic striker such as Wiratchai, it could end badly once again for the veteran.

Still, Aoki has enough left in the tank to provide an entertaining bout with Wiratchai. The Japanese martial arts legend currently holds a professional MMA record of 40 wins, 8 losses and 1 No Contest while the Thai contender has 9 wins, 2 losses and 1 No Contest.

Taking place at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, “ONE: Reign of Kings” will be headlined by Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen, 29, of Australia and Vietnam and Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, 30, of the Philippines. They will compete for the ONE Interim Bantamweight Championship.

Here is a clip from one of Aoki’s previous bouts:

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