Strikeforce is rolling the dice heading back to CBS without Fedor Emelianenko but it has a helluva card to roll out there on Saturday night. It's just a matter of hooking the casual and non-MMA fan. If they could harness the passion that some fights fans have about Japanese phenom Shinya Aoki and convince American's to watch it could be a huge audience.
Aoki, 26, is one of the best submission artists in the world, with 14 wins via sub. He's beaten great fighters like Joachim Hansen, Eddie Alvarez and JZ Calvancante. For that reason, he's Japan's No. 1 star. But he's also developed a reputation as a bit of a loose cannon in the ring which also includes being a drama queen at times. He's had more than a few incident where he really milked a shot to the back of the head or a low blow. That worries his opponent this weekend American Gilbert Melendez.
"You know sometime he'll look for the way out," said Melendez. "I can't give him that opportunity. If I accidently hit him in the nuts or elbow him wrong, I gotta realize he might take advantage of that and find a way out."
Aoki star hit a new level back in December when he beat Mizuto Hirota and snapped his arm. The lightweight champ then stood up and flipped the bird to everyone he could. Melendez has been asked multiple times if that incident scares him.
"I've been training for this guy for years," said Melendez. "I've had [training partner] Jake [Shields] tapping guys out constantly.I've had Nick and Nate [Diaz] doing all kinds of crazy jiu-jitsu. I'm very fortunate I have a great team."
Melendez said in watching tapes you have to keep the fight standing against Aoki. When you do so, don't throw kicks. It only gives Aoki the opportunity to catch the kick and score the takedown. This is a huge test for both fighters and pretty ballsy on the part of Aoki to leave his comfort zone and come to the U.S.