There’s been a consistent number of legendary matches in ONE Championship that have more than satisfied fans in the last few years. But one legendary battle in particular continues to hold a special place in our hearts, that of ‘Sexyama’ Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. ‘Tobikan Judan’ Shinya Aoki at ONE X.
Prior to their ultimate grudge match, which took place inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium on March 26, 2022, Akiyama and Aoki never hid their actual hatred for each other from the public eye.
Their disdain for each other went back decades ago, a time when they both fought under the same Japanese banner, DREAM, in 2008.
Aoki, who was the promotion’s lightweight champion, ignited their rivalry by accusing ‘Sexyama’ of ducking out of fights to maintain his popularity amongst the fans.
He called his fellow countryman “superficial” – a guy who paid more attention to his good looks than becoming a real MMA fighter.
Finally, after years of friction, Akiyama accepted Aoki’s call out during a Road to ONE event in Japan.
Their lightweight showdown began as expected with Aoki making the first move with his grappling acumen. He pinned his rival against the cage with the perfect back-take as he attempted to finish the fight with a rear-naked choke, but ‘Sexyama’ heroically hung in there until the bell.
After experiencing a very close call, Akiyama worked hard to keep the fight standing in the second round. His confidence grew as his hands found their target, pushing Aoki back against the cage and creating that distance he didn’t have in the first round.
As the seconds passed, Akiyama knew it was the beginning of the end for his rival after wobbling him with a good right hand. With punches and knees to follow, the referee had seen enough to wave off the match in the second round by TKO.
ONE Championship hailed Akiyama’s triumphant finish against Aoki on Instagram this week with the following groundbreaking announcement:
“Whether you know him as “Sexyama,” Choo Sung-hoon, or Yoshihiro Akiyama, he WILL bring the heat 🔥. Who should the Japanese-South Korean MMA legend take on next? @akiyamachoo.”