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Shinya Aoki has basically seen it all in MMA.
The former DREAM, Shooto and ONE Championship titleholder has been fighting professionally since 2003 and has amassed 55 professional fights. Aoki (45-9 MMA), who also competes in grappling, fights in his 56th pro MMA bout Friday against James Nakashima at ONE Championship 126.
Aoki, 37, is still going strong and enjoying a good run of 6-1 in his last seven bouts. The Japanese veteran admits motivation comes and goes, but discipline keeps him fighting.
“My motivation is to train and fight, and I think a lot of people have different reasons for training and continuing fighting for a long time. But to train for something or to have a goal is kind of fickle to have,” Aoki told MMA Junkie Radio. “Motivation, it comes and goes. Rather than motivation, I think it’s along the lines of discipline, and my discipline derives simply from enjoying what I do.”
Fighting has become part of the routine for Aoki. Stepping in the cage is not as nerve wracking as when he was just starting out in MMA.
“I’ve been at this for 20 years, almost,” Aoki said. “The first time I fought, there was a sense of exhilaration that gravitated away as time went on. I continue fighting because of the feeling that I need to continue fighting.
“It’s just another fight in the books. I get this question a lot, but it’s just another day in the office and I treat every fight the same way.”