This is your last chance to hop on the Shinya Aoki bandwagon before it leaves your neighborhood. It only comes around once a year so kiss your parents goodbye and don’t forget to pack your toothbrush. Look, I even saved a seat for you. Unfortunately the MMA world will never get to see Penn vs. Aoki unless Penn goes on hiatus and fights in every possible weight division in Japan for a few years (hey, it happened before). In the meantime, check out Shinya Aoki’s post-fight interview conducted by SportsNavi, translated by GryphonJapan and cleaned up by myself (and the few years I repeated Japanese 101 in college).
Did you plan on using the heel hook before the fight?
No, it was just a flash of inspiration that happened in the ring.
Did you think Kawajiri could escape out of the hold when he started to kick away?
When I grabbed him, I felt that I could finish it.
At some moments in the fight, it seemed like you tried to re-grip Kawajiri
When I caught him and tried to submit him, I heard a loud crackle sound. He did not tap so I thought ‘Ok, this match just became a death-fight’ and I was going to destroy his leg.
Did you believe you would win when you first grabbed his leg?
I knew Kawajiri never taps so I could not win without breaking his bone. I was hoping for an open-fracture.
Could you feel Kawajiri’s ‘lionheart’ in this fight?
Yes, yes. No one could have endured [that submission] like Kawajiri. His heart is iron.
You did not wear your famous long spats. What was the reasoning behind your decision?
There was no reason and there’s no reason to wear long spats in every fight.
You said something to Kawajiri after the fight, what was it?
“I could show you 100% [meaning either he could have fully destroyed his leg or he didn’t give the fight his full potential] but I chose not to because I respect you. Thank you for this fight.”
At the end of the fight you said you’re getting married…
She supported me in April [at Strikeforce Nashville]. After I lost, many people blamed me, but she helped me through it all. The people who mocked me in my fight versus Melendez, I wanted to kill them all. Even in this fight, too many people said ‘Kawajiri would win!’. I felt like telling these people ‘Go to hell!’. Oh, what was the question? About my marriage…
You defended your title, what will you do in the future?
If Kikuno defeated JZ, then I hoped I would face Kikuno. He lost, so it all depends on Sasahara. I will take part in DEEP in October. It is a memorial event for DEEP.