Shinya Aoki has carved out a legacy that will stand the test of time.
The 38-year-old judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt carries a 47-9 record with one no contest, having captured championships in multiple promotions across the globe while building a reputation as one of the sport’s premier entertainers. That Aoki has done so outside the auspices of the Ultimate Fighting Championship—he still has never competed inside the Octagon—makes his accomplishments all the more impressive. The Shizuoka, Japan, native last appeared at One on TNT 4, where he completed his trilogy with Eduard Folayang by submitting the Filipino star with a first-round armbar on April 28.
As Aoki awaits word on his next assignment from One Championship matchmakers, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. Few can match the diversity of his repertoire.
Aoki has utilized 14 different maneuvers in securing his 30 career submission victories. His methods of choice: six armbars, four rear-naked chokes, four triangle chokes, four neck cranks, two arm-triangle chokes, two gogoplatas, one brabo choke, one twister, on triangle armbar, one keylock, one Achilles lock, one hammerlock, one heel hook and one standing armlock.
2. He has an affinity for penthouse living.
“Tobikan Judan” has spent 3,842 combined days—the equivalent of 10 and a half years—as champion in Dream, One Championship and Shooto. Aoki has held the One Championship lightweight crown for 1,316 days, from April 5, 2013 to Nov. 11, 2016 and again from March 31, 2019 to May 17, 2019, the Shooto middleweight title for 1,554 days, from Feb. 17, 2006 to May 21, 2010, and the Dream lightweight belt for 972 days, from Oct. 6, 2009 to June 3, 2012.
3. Consistency has been a defining characteristic.
Aoki has put together five different winning streaks in which he has posted at least four victories in a row. He has rattled off nine straight wins twice, from Nov. 6, 2005 to Dec. 31, 2007 and again from Oct. 6, 2012 to Dec. 29, 2015. Meanwhile, the Yuki Nakai protégé has suffered back-to-back losses only once in his 57-fight career.
4. He does not lose to nobodies.
Only eight men have managed to defeat Aoki: Folayang, Hayato Sakurai (twice), Jutaro Nakao, Joachim Hansen, Gilbert Melendez, Eddie Alvarez, Ben Askren and Christian Lee. They own a combined record of 195-80-7.
5. He has a reputation for quick-strike offense.
Despite his dependency on grappling, Aoki boasts 29 first-round finishes—four of the sub-minute variety—among his 47 professional victories. He tapped Yasutoshi Ryu with an armbar in 51 seconds under the Deep banner on Nov. 24, 2003, dispatched Toshikatsu Harada with a triangle armbar in 49 seconds at an Inoki Genome Federation event on Dec. 31, 2013, put away Ev Ting with an arm-triangle choke in 57 seconds at One Championship “Kingdom of Heroes” on Oct. 6, 2018 and choked Honorio Banario unconscious with a D’Arce at One Championship Century Part 2 on Oct. 13, 2019.