Born May 9th, 1983 in Shizuoka City, Japan, Shinya Aoki (aka “Tobikan Jūdan”) entered the MMA scene in 2003, his career spanning three decades’ of multiple international promotions, including Pride FC, Shooto, DREAM, Strikeforce and ONE.
The now 38 year-old submissions expert began training in martial arts while he was in high school, where he honed his craft in the Kosen style of Judo, continuing to compete while attending Waseda University.
Aoki then made the leap to MMA where he added BJJ to his arsenal of grappling techniques, following training by black belt, Eddie Bravo. Aoki currently sports a black belt in both Judo & BJJ.
Aoki is nicknamed “Tobikan Jūdan” (The Grand Master of Flying Submissions), a name that reflects his grappling agility. “Tobikan Jūdan’s” approach to combat consists of shooting for the takedown as swiftly as possible, restraining his opponents with stark patience, before choosing from an abundance of slick submissions in order to end the contest.
It is this discipline that has earned him a magnificent number of 31 submission wins, which reflects in his 47-9 (1) record. He currently competes in ONE Championship where he has won the Lightweight title, twice.
After losing the title to Christian Lee in 2019, Aoki has since then been on a four-fight winning streak and is currently the no.2-ranked contender in the lightweight division where he aims to extend his legacy.
Now, with all that covered, it’s time to lock onto “The Grand Master of Flying Submissions”, Shinya Aoki’s Top 5 MMA Finishes! (in descending order)
5. Vs. Arnaud Lepont — ONE: Rise of Kings (Oct. 6, 2012)
This marks Shinya Aoki’s debut for ONE on its sixth PPV, with a 30-6 (1) record. Aoki’s first fight for the promotion was against French fighter, Arnaud Lepont, who held a 10-1 record.
During Lepont’s introduction, he mockingly read a photoshopped book, ‘Beating Aoki for Dummies’. Aoki didn’t see the funny side of that.
Less than 10 seconds into round 1, Aoki shot for the takedown, landing in side control before trapping Lepont’s legs with his own.
Once in mount position, Aoki landed an elbow directly on Lepont’s forehead before applying a triangle choke. Lepont tried to roll his way out of it, but Aoki already had his legs wrapped tightly, putting Lepont to sleep.
Aoki had to notify the referee before he finally decided to step-in, stopping the fight at 1:25 of round 1. Aoki was declared the winner via triangle choke submission.
Aoki’s first performance in ONE conveyed a powerful statement to other fledglings of the lightweight division never to take a page out of a Dummies book again!
4. Vs. James Nakashima — ONE: Unbreakable (Jan. 22, 2021)
Following his second consecutive victory over Kimihiro Eto, Shinya Aoki was scheduled to face James “NAKO” Nakashima, with a 45-9 (1) record.
Former LFA Champion, Nakashima, entered with a 12-1 record, and beating the former two-time champion was his chance to bring major credibility to his career.
In round 1, Aoki threw a right kick to the head, which “NAKO” successfully blocked with ease. In a second attempt at a head kick, Nakashima caught it and returned with a kick of his own to the leg.
Aoki then faked a left cross, shooting for a takedown into the clinch, wrapping a right overhook, only for Nakashima to press him firmly against the cage.
With Aoki keeping Nakashima inactive with a clinch and a left overhook, Nakashima broke free after landing a left knee to the body.
Back to where the two fighters started, Nakashima attempted to throw a jab, only to be met with an Aoki right hook, but he came back with a crisp, jab cross combination.
Following a lightning attempt by Nakashima to strike twice, Aoki countered with a double underhook, forcing Nakashima’s back to the cage. Aoki flipped Nakashima, giving him the opportunity to perform a back mount.
Aoki pulled off a terrifying rear naked choke, turning Nakashima’s head 90 degrees, forcing him to submit without hesitation, ending the fight at 2:42 at round 1. Shinya Aoki was declared the winner by RNC submission.
Not only did this finish earn Aoki the Submission of the Year (2021), but Aoki at that time, also had the most (8) submission wins in ONE Championship.
3. Vs. Honorio Banario — ONE: Century Part 2 (Oct. 13, 2019)
Once Shinya Aoki reclaimed the Lightweight title from his rival, Eduard Folayang, his reign would only last 47 days before losing it to Christian Lee.
Fans were left to ponder if the then 36 year-old had anything left to prove, yet Aoki bounced back as he returned to the cage five months later with a 43-9 (1) record against Filipino fighter, Honorio “The Rock” Banario, holding a 14-9 record.
Within 10 seconds of round 1, Shinya Aoki shot for a takedown, yet Banario defended with an overhook, leaving Aoki to pressure “The Rock” against the cage with a right underhook.
Whilst trying to throw Banario off balance, Aoki finally swept the leg, which dropped “The Rock” to the ground HARD, and went straight into half guard.
Stunningly, Aoki loosened his guard, luring Banario into a guillotine choke, yet letting go of the choke, transitioning into a D’Arce choke.
Aoki then effortlessly rolled “The Rock” onto his side, applying the choke tightly, forcing Banario to tap, and the referee to stop the fight at 54 seconds into round 1. Shinya Aoki was declared the winner via D’Arce choke submission.
This was Shinya Aoki’s quickest win to date at the promotion, with his supreme performance here shredding any further doubts as to his submission superpowers.
2. Vs. Rasul Yakhyaev — ONE: Unstoppable Dreams (May 18, 2018)
Following two consecutive losses to Eduard Folayang and Welterweight Champion Ben Askren, many wondered if the Japanese submission master still had the momentum to compete at the highest level.
As Aoki was set to face Russian lightweight, Rasul Yakhyaev, he really needed a performance boost to get back into title contention.
In the beginning of round 1, Aoki shot for a takedown within the first 15 seconds, only to press Rasul against the cage. Rasul, however, managed to reverse and press Aoki against the cage pushing his opponent with a left underhook, in turn only for Aoki to attempt a flying triangle.
Although he missed the mark, Aoki managed to swiftly roll Rasul onto his back where he succeeded in getting a full guard over the Russian.
While Rasul struggled to escape the full guard, Aoki changed to half guard, stopping the Russian in his tracks yet again. Rasul managed to escape the half guard, but was met by a triangle choke from the former champion.
Rasul desperately tried to strike at Aoki, but it was all in vain as Shinya tightened his grip, and pulled off a staggering ude gatame for good measure, forcing the Russian to tap out.
This awarded Shinya Aoki the submission win via triangle choke at 3:15 into the first round.
This finish highlighted Aoki’s grappling superiority by crafting two submissions simultaneously.
1. Vs. Eduard Folayang II — ONE: A New Era (Mar. 31, 2019)
Nearly three years after losing the Lightweight title to Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, Aoki spent 2018 making his way back into the title picture.
Following three consecutive victories, “Tobikan Jūdan” entered the fight with a 42-8 (1) record, with eyes set on his second Championship reign for ONE, and Folayang stepping in as the defending champion with a 21-6 record.
Aoki began round 1 with two head kicks of no import as Folayang returned an inside leg kick for his trouble. Every attempted left kick by the challenger was met by a second, inside leg kick and counter right hand by Folayang, who followed with an outside leg kick.
As the Tokyo crowd rallied behind the challenger, “Tobikan Jūdan” continued the pursuit as he ate a left hook to the jaw and attempted another high kick, again to no avail, with the reigning champion landing another solid inside kick.
Aoki threw a final kick to the body and picking up a pattern in Folayang’s response, caught an attempted left leg kick, then proceeded to press the champion against the cage.
With the right underhook in place, Aoki took Folayang to the ground where he switched from full guard to half guard.
With Folayang right where he wanted him, Aoki applied the arm-triangle choke. With a tightened grip on the champion, Folayang finally passed out before the referee stepped in to call the fight at 2:34 into the first round.
“Tobikan Jūdan” was declared the winner by submission via a powerful arm-triangle choke.
Shinya Aoki claimed the ONE Lightweight Championship once again, adding another crown to his multitude of accolades along the road of his illustrious career.