SHINYA AOKI TRAINS FOR GILBERT MELENDEZ
Shinya Aoki held a public training session at IMPACT, the official DEEP gym, in Tokyo on October 26th. Aoki will face Gilbert Melendez on November 5th at the Yokohama Arena in the joint PRIDE BUSHIDO 13/PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix 2006 Final Round event.
Shinya Aoki impressed the fans with both his costume and his fight in his recent BUSHIDO debut and this time he showed off in his public training. Today he wore the top half of a gi over his trademark long spats as he began his training. Aoki put on a short grappling exhibition, sparring with his partner for two round of two minutes each. Aoki demonstrated several moves, includes chokes from the twister and many chokes using his gi, once again showing off his repertoire of techniques.
Asked about his gi following the end of sparring, Aoki replied, "I haven't decided yet but I'm thinking of wearing it in the fight. It will prevent slippage and I can try out some new techniques. I want to use whatever I can under PRIDE rules." Under the rules in SHOOTO, Aoki's usual stomping ground, neither the gi nor shoes are allowed.
Aoki's recent SHOOTO fight on October 14th in Yokohama ended in a victory when his opponent was disqualified for a low blow. Although there were worries about remaining damage from the low blow, Aoki seems to be in top condition. "I've been training twice a day since the beginning of this week, just as I planned. I always wanted to use that SHOOTO fight as a step to prepare for the Melendez fight, so no matter how that fight turned out, it wouldn't affect (my fight with Melendez)."
Gilbert Melendez, Aoki's opponent, is a warrior and tough enough that the current PRIDE Lightweight Champion, Takanori Gomi, wants to fight him. "Simply put, I think he's an incredible fighter," Aoki commented. "Just look at the way he beat Obiya, one of the world's best. Obiya might win if they fought again but Melendez really interested me with his strength and intensity in that fight. I knew that I wanted to fight him and I think it's going to be a fun fight." Aoki continued, smiling, "I've had nine fights so far and each fighter was different. I've fought top fighters like Hayato "Mach" Sakurai and Jason Black, so I'm not going to change my fighting style just because it's Melendez." Aoki gave a knowing smile and a glimpse of his killer instinct, "I'm sure he'll be out to kill me when he's trying to knock me out but I'm full of that killing spirit myself too. I will be in destruction mode when I put submissions on him."
"If I fight as always, I don't think I will lose, so I will just give 120%. I'm more concerned about myself than my opponent. If I fight like myself and have fun, I'm sure the results will be good. I want everyone to watch my submissions. Melendez will come straight down the middle, and I'm going to give it right back to him. Please watch this head-on collision of striking and grappling," Aoki said.
Depending on the outcome of this fight alone, Aoki may find himself near the top of PRIDE's Lightweight Division. Even so, Aoki is still taking everything at his own pace, "I don't have any future plans. If I beat Melendez, that will mean that I've grown stronger and then an opponent even stronger will appear. I will train as hard as I can for that opponent. That's all. I simply want to have as many fights as possible right now. I'm still 23 and I'd like to fight 6~8 fights per year. Experience is everything in this sport and I want to build up more experience. So for the next three years or so, I'm more focused on having lots of fights rather than just winning and losing. I want to find out how high I can take myself. Can I really become one of the world's best? It's a fight with myself."
Aoki attracted a lot of attention in his previous BUSHIDO fight when he wore bright yellow, long spats. "I'll make new spats this time," Aoki said. "Luckily, everyone around me thought (the spats) were great. I want to make spats part of my gimmick. (laughing)"