“The story starts from a connection in 2008, but the situation then and the situation now is completely different. Our positions and status are different too, so Iâm not too concerned with that. Simply, there was a promotion called Dream. Within that, I didnât like when there was someone who only thought of themselves.”
Aoki fought 16 times for Dream and was the promotion’s lightweight champion. Akiyama only appeared on two cards but he won both fights and earned a UFC contract on the back of those performances.
It isn’t clear exactly what Akiyama did to upset Aoki but the former ONE Championship lightweight title holder hints that the veteran was reluctant to accept certain fights,
“Akiyama says heâs an active fighter, but there were times when he wasnât fighting. He doesnât like it much, I think. Iâve been doing it because I like it.”
He also accuse Akiyama of being obsessed with his appearance and describes his ONE: ‘X’ opponent as ‘superficial’,
“Akiyama is this cool-looking guy. Itâs either you become cool based on the amazing things you do or accomplish, or be cool with the lavish things in life. I find this interesting. Itâs what you are based on, I suppose. Itâs quite superficial. Even if you dress up or act cool, in the end, there is only the real deal.”
At ONE: ‘X’ this Saturday the two rivals face off and Aoki will be looking to show that he is ‘the real deal’,
âWhen it comes to something real, youâll see the difference between Shinya Aoki, who only speaks harsh truths and is living in a real world, with those who only sugarcoat stuff.”
The two had an altercation at Road to ONE (Sexyama Edition) and Aoki admits that Akiyama got under his skin,
“Speaking of my performance at Road to ONE I was kind of upset because Akiyama hadnât made a decision to fight me or not. I think Akiyama is two-faced.”
Traditionally ONE Championship fighters have shown a lot of respect for one another but this fight is clearly an exception to the rule. There is real animosity between these two men and Aoki is looking to expose Akiyama when the face off in the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Saturday.
But he is also aware of the significance of the occasion with two of the best Japanese fighters of the century facing off. And Aoki knows he will have to cast aside his feelings for his opponent in order to focus on getting the right result,
âThis match will be a part of Japanese history. I donât really care about how I win, as long as I win.”