Shinya Aoki and Masakatsu Funaki will face off on May 4th. The two mixed martial arts legends will be taking part in a pro wrestling bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
The two veterans will face off under ‘GHC Martial Arts Rules’. Aoki remains an active mixed martial artist although he is coming off back to back losses in 2022.
Funaki retired from MMA over a decade ago but has continued to compete in pro wrestling events. He is 15 years older than Aoki.
Japanese MMA icons Masakatsu Funaki & Shinya Aoki will fight on 4 May at Ryogoku Kokugikan!
It’s the 2x KOP Funaki against former DREAM & ONE LW Champ Aoki!
— Pro Wrestling NOAH Global (@noahglobal) April 19, 2023
When Aoki is training and competing in MMA he has a reputation for being one of the most serious fighters in the entire sport. You will seldom, if ever, see him joking and smile.
But since transitioning to pro wrestling he has revealed a fun loving side to his personality. Aoki clearly enjoys a joke, not that fans who had followed him from Pride to Dream to ONE Championship would be aware of this.
Aoki frequently bursts into tears after his MMA fight, regardless of whether he wins or loses. But he has been doing more of the latter of late, getting stopped by Yoshihiro Akiyama and Saygid Izagakhmaev.
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Funaki was a two time King of Pancrase from back in the says when the Japanese promotion didn’t have weight classes. He has been in with the likes of Rickson Gracie, Bas Rutten, Frank Shamrock and Ken Shamrock.
He competed regularly from 1993 until 2012 with the vast majority of Funaki’s fights taking place on Pancrase cards. He did feature on some Dream and K-1 events towards the end of his career.
With both men having made their names in MMA this pro wrestling bout is sure to attract a lot of attention. Aoki and Funaki are two legends of the sport and they will finally get to share a ring even if it won’t be a competitive fight.