One of the very few elite lightweights outside of the UFC is Shinya Aoki, a super-slick submission specialist with a fiery disposition and arsenal of technique to back it up. However, though the 28-year old has been ripping opponents limb from limb – literally – for the past five years he’s never found his way into the Octagon despite possessing the chops to be a star in the organization.

Aoki recently elaborated on why he’s never signed with the UFC, also explaining he expects to fight Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez at some point in 2012 and has agreed to compete in Japan on New Year’s Eve as he’s done a number of times before.

“If I didn’t have a family, then I would go to the UFC right now. However, I have a family (and) MMA in Japan is a complicated situation. It’s not in my control,” Aoki explained to MMAWeekly.

“MMA in Japan is going through a difficult phase,” Aoki continued. “However, I am a fighter. So all I can do is to do my best. I’d like to fight in the U.S. because it is the biggest stage.’

The “Tobikan Judan” is 29-5 in his career with nineteen submissions to his credit including tap-outs of Tatsuya Kawajiri, Lyle Beerbohm, Joachim Hansen, and Alvarez in 2008.


MMATraining Take: Maybe I’m reading too much into his words or something is lost in translation but it seems Aoki is putting his country and family before himself. There aren’t a lot of premier Mixed Martial Artists who fight almost exclusively in Japan and for him to do so must mean a lot to the nation and its fans. That being said, I would love to see Aoki in the UFC to see how he fares against the lightweight division’s best on a consistent basis rather than good-to-great opponents every now and then with a nobody sprinkled in occasionally for good measure.