After a last second submission to secure the DREAM lightweight title on Tuesday, it appears Shinya Aoki is asking for the UFC to take notice.
After the win, questions arose about his first title defense against Tatsuya Kawajiri, who subsequently asked for a title shot after his TKO win against Melchor Manibusen earlier in the night. Initial speculation was an Aoki vs. Kawajiri title fight to be held on K1’s New Years Eve event, later this year.
However, after taking time to poke fun at “The Crusher”, Aoki turned his attention on the UFC’s lightweight division, “I was thinking, ‘why is he here?’ I can’t reply immediately. I don’t even want to say anything about New Year’s Eve. I’ve been fighting one bout after another, so I’m exhausted. I was thinking this was my last fight. I just want to rest. After that, then maybe I can decide on something. I’d like to fight B.J. Penn.”
The “Tobikan Judan” continued, “I want to fight the best in the world, like B.J. Penn and Kenny Florian — strong guys like that. I want to take them out and prove that Japanese are truly strong. I was told by someone that ‘you got the belt, now you’re number one in the world,’ but I don’t think so. Being top of the world isn’t something so trivial. If I could become like B.J. Penn, I could die happy.”
Though it’s highly unlikely we’ll see the newly crowned champion in the UFC, it’s still worth noting he has a desire to compete with the pound for pound best. This is the first time Aoki has spoke publicly about the UFC and it could be for his own self-reverence, but at the very least, it may raise a few eyebrows within the premier MMA organization.