Shinya Aoki’s long awaited featherweight debut will take place on Oct. 18 at ONE FC: Total Domination when he goes up against Cody Stevens at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Having spent the majority of his career competing at lightweight, the Japanese submission specialist is planning on making a permanent move to 145 pounds.
Aoki is the most dominant lightweight in the history of Asian MMA. He has beaten some of the biggest names in the sport including Eddie Alvarez, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Joachim Hansen, but his coaches at Evolve MMA believe he can be even more effective as a featherweight. Aoki has already made a successful test cut.
Having already established that he can make 145 pounds, Aoki will have the opportunity to demonstrate that his legendary submission skills will not be adversely affected by the weight cut when he takes on Stevens.
Stevens (11-5-1) is a member of the fight team at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket and is coming off back-to-back wins over highly ranked Australian lightweight Greg Atzori in Queensland and UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator veteran Dustin Neace in Ohio.
He has never previously faced an opponent the caliber of Aoki (33-6-1), but Stevens will know this is an opportunity to immediately establish himself as a title contender in the ONE FC 145-pound division against an opponent who has never previously tested himself at this weight category.
The ONE FC featherweight belt currently belongs to Koji Oishi, who stopped the inaugural champion, Honorio Banario, in the second round of their title fight in Manila in May. Aoki has made it clear he wants to challenge the Pancrase and UFC veteran.
An impressive win on his featherweight debut would put Aoki in a strong position for a featherweight title shot, but he still holds the ONE FC strap at 155 pounds, meaning matchmakers will eventually have to decide whether to allow him to continue to compete for both belts.
Aoki trains at the world-renowned Evolve MMA gym and is now based permanently in Singapore, where he has a significant fan following. He will be fighting there for the third time on Oct. 18, having submitted Arnaud Lepont and Kotetsu Boku in his previous ONE FC outings.
However, he will not be headlining ONE FC: Total Domination. That honor goes to the bantamweight unification bout between interim champion Bibiano Fernandes (14-3) and regular champion Soo Chul Kim (7-4), while the co-main event is currently slated to be the lightweight battle between Eddie Ng (7-1) and Peter Davis (6-2).
With a middleweight bout between Tatsuya Mizuno (11-9) and Rafael Silva (39-13) also confirmed, this is shaping up to be one of the best ONE FC cards yet. As always, it will be broadcast live on Star Sports and available to purchase online for 9.99 USD.