by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
Miletich’s Black Faces a Shooto Champion

Shinya Aoki (8-2) vs Jason Black (20-1-1)

Shinya Aoki is a veteran of DEEP and the current Shooto middleweight champion. The up-and-coming fighter will move down in weight to make his anticipated lightweight debut in Pride. Aoki holds wins over Keith Wisniewski, Kuniyoshi Hironaka and Akira Kikuchi. Jason Black is a Miletich fighter and a veteran of many MMA organizations including the WFA and Extreme Challenge. Black suffered his first professional loss when his elbow was dislocated during a fight against UFC veteran Shonie Carter. At Pride Bushido 11, Jason made a successful Japanese debut by defeating Eoh Won Jin with strikes. Black holds wins over Keith Wisniewski and Ivan Menjivar.

Aoki trains under Yuki Nakai, a well respected BJJ black belt and a Shooto legend. In addition to BJJ, Aoki also comes from a Judo background. Shinya defeated Akira Kikuchi to claim the Shooto middleweight belt back in February. Kikuchi, known for his ground skills, was controlled by Aoki for most of the fight. As the winner of Rickson Gracie’s Budo Challenge, an All Japan BJJ champion and a Japanese qualifier of 2005’s ADCC world championship, Aoki may be the most dangerous submission fighter that Black has yet to face.

Jason Black is a good fighter with strong wrestling skills but I wasn’t impressed with his last performance. Black was stunned by relative newcomer Eoh Won Jin and nearly tasted defeat. Black has shown to be bit tentative when facing slick grappling opponents which may play into Aoki’s strengths. Shinya isn’t known as a remarkable striker but he’s willing to stand with anyone. His strikes are used more as a setup to take his opponents down. On the ground, the advantage goes to the Japanese Shooto champion. In my opinion, Aoki is one of the most naturally gifted Japanese ground fighters that I have seen in recent years. He has some slick submissions and a very active guard.

Though he’s not as experienced as Jason Black, Aoki’s record may prove to be a little deceiving as he is truly a talented fighter. He was impressive against Hayato ‘Mach’ Sakurai but lost a controversial decision. Aoki broke Keith Wisniewski’s elbow with a wakigatame throw that has made many highlight reels. Look for Black to utilize his wrestling and take the fight to the ground. From there, the lanky Aoki will use his superior ground game and outwork Black with slick transitions and solid technique. The Miletich fighter won’t be able to stay idle in Shinya’s very active guard. It will be a tough fight but the Japanese star will pull off a submission victory.

Prediction: Shinya Aoki submits Jason Black RD1