Widely-regarded as one of the top lightweight fighters in the world, ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya Aoki will step back inside the cage this 22 May at ONE: WARRIOR'S QUEST held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium to take on Koji Ando.
The card will also feature the crowning of the first-ever ONE Strawweight World Championship title fight, as Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke of Thailand meets the Philippines' Roy Doliguez.
But, as has been the case since he first rose to prominence beginning in 2003, all eyes will be squarely focused on that of Aoki.
With a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo, the 31-year-old from Shizukoa City, Japan has earned 37 career wins in 44 fights. Of those, 25 have been submission triumphs, including three straight.
Last December, Aoki successfully defended his ONE title with a first round rear-naked choke of Kamal Shalorus.
Since 2012, Aoki has won all seven of his fights, going 4-0 with ONE. That also includes submission wins vs. Arnaud Lepont and Kotetsu Boku, the latter of which netted him the ONE belt.
A former DREAM and Shooto champion, success has followed Aoki everywhere he's taken his game.
Along with the aforementioned wins, he's also defeated the likes of Antonio McKee, Rob McCullough, Rich Clementi, Lyle Beerbohm, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Joachim Hansen, UFC lightweight contender Eddie Alvarez, former UFC title contender Caol Uno and Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante.
Aoki's background reflects a successful Judo career that began early in childhood. He competed in all Japan championships and in modalities such as kosen judo and nanatei judo before moving into the world of mixed martial arts. His BJJ black belt was acquired under the teachings of Yuki Nakai, a former MMA fighter himself.
His opponent, Ando (11-3-2), will be attempting to make a name for himself at the expense of Aoki. The No. 1 ranked lightweight contender, the 30-year-old fellow Japanese fighter has scored wins in each of his last five fights.
That includes a pair of stoppage wins with ONE, downing then-unbeaten Rafael Nunes and finishing Zorobabel Moreira. Much like Aoki did when he topped Boku, he will have the chance to avenge his Evolve MMA teammate, Moreira, vs. Ando.
A member of the Wajutsu Keishukai Tokyo fight team, Ando has earned four knockouts and four submission wins to his credit. His last loss was a split decision to Guan Wang, and his other two prior defeats were both decision losses.
Ando began his pro MMA career in 2008 competing for the Greatest Common Multiple promotion, going 3-0-2 in action for GCM and Sengoku. After a two-fight stint, he returned to GCM, fighting for Road FC and Legend FC before signing with ONE in 2014.
He holds a 2013 victory over current ONE Featherweight World Champion Narantungalag Jadambaa to his credit, as the bout was stopped due to an ankle injury in the third round.
ONE: WARRIOR'S QUEST will be held on 22 May at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore. Get your tickets for the event at www.sportshub.com.sg. Global fans can catch the event 'live' at www.oneppv.com