In the promotion’s very first event of 2021, ONE: Unbreakable features Shinya Aoki vs James Nakashima. The former ONE Lightweight Champion Shinya Aoki returns to action after a lengthy 15-month hiatus from the ONE Octagon. On the other hand, James Nakashima who previously challenged for the ONE Welterweight belt is dropping down in weight in hopes of another winning run.
ONE: Unbreakable airs live on January 22, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Shinya Aoki vs James Nakashima is a beautiful matchup worth anticipating for. Let’s get into it and take a look at the matchup and clash of styles!
James “Nako” Nakashima
James Nakashima, a national wrestling champion, is a former LFA (Legacy Fighting Alliance) Welterweight Champion. Nakashima is a formidably well-rounded fighter, considering that he has trained under various disciplines of martial arts. He has a history of Boxing and Muay Thai and was also under the tutelage of the best kickboxer of all time, Team Petrosyan.
Over the past years, James Nakashima has honed his Jiu-Jitsu in pursuit of becoming more dominant on the ground and he constantly trains with former UFC and Bellator Champion, Benson Henderson. Nakashima was previously undefeated with 12 wins, riding a 3 fight win streak in ONE Championship.
The American was on the verge of becoming the new ONE Welterweight Champion when he challenged Kiamrian Abbasov for the belt at ONE: Inside the Matrix II. He was causing more damage and slowly running away with the win until a hail-mary knee from Abbasov landed on Nakashima’s chin. Shinya Aoki vs James Nakashima
Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki
Almost everyone in the MMA world knows who this guy is. Shinya Aoki, the most iconic and decorated Japanese fighter of all time, has been one of the top performers in mixed martial arts for decades. He a former Shooto Middleweight Champion, WAMMA Lightweight Champion, DREAM Lightweight Champion, and ONE Lightweight Champion. Shinya Aoki vs James Nakashima
His Jiu-Jitsu game who is second to none, carried Aoki to amass 45 wins of which 29 came from submissions. Often viewed as a one-sided-fighter, the 37-year-old Shinya Aoki is constantly looking to improve. He now trains under Evolve MMA in Singapore, where he sharpens his stand-up game.
Shinya Aoki lost his ONE Lightweight Championship when he got knocked out by fellow Evolve MMA teammate Christian Lee in 2019. Aoki bounced back from that loss and finished Honorio Banario, in what was his appearance in the ONE Championship octagon. However, Aoki fought on September 2020, at Road to ONE 3, a combat sports event held by ONE Championship in partnership with Shooto. Shinya Aoki vs James Nakashima
Shinya Aoki vs James Nakashima Prediction
In a classic Wrestler vs Jiu-Jitsu specialist matchup, Shinya Aoki vs James Nakashima fight should be a thrilling one. In this clash of styles, it shouldn’t be surprising if ever the fight will remain on the stand-up. It is a tendency that in fights like this, both ground specialists opt to remain striking because with their caliber, fighting in both fortes would mean that just one mistake can cost them the fight.
As much as James Nakashima is skilled in the ground, Shinya Aoki is undoubtedly levels better in terms of technique, experience, and creativity. With that being said, I see Nakashima preferring to strike in this fight. His stand-up game was surprising when he fought Abbasov as he developed to be a very good counter striker. He showed accurate kicks and solid boxing, in which that educated left hand of his broke the champion’s nose.
Shinya Aoki, as we’ve all seen in all of his previous fights, will always look to secure a takedown and dismantle his opponents in the ground. But as said above, Aoki has drastically improved his stand-up. He’s not that abysmal of a striker. In fact, he has a good defense often implementing a high guard, and he also packs snappy kicks and straight punches. These, he effectively uses as a disguise behind his takedown attempts. However, his striking isn’t just as good as what Nakashima possesses now. Shinya Aoki vs James Nakashima
I see this fight as Shinya Aoki being the aggressor while James Nakashima is on the backpedal and counter striking. Shinya Aoki won’t keep this fight standing up, and he will timely look for good openings. When this fight goes to the ground, Aoki will always be dangerous. But I don’t think he can keep Nakashima for long. The big factor for this will be age. With Nakashima having youth on his side and coming from the welterweight division, I bet he is the stronger one between both.
My prediction is that James Nakashima will stuff Shinya Aoki’s takedowns, overpowering the Japanese, and even might be the one who ends up controlling the top position. However, Shinya Aoki being the legend and veteran that he is, he will find a way to finish!
Shinya Aoki vs James Nakashima Prediction: Shinya Aoki by Submission
Promotional Featured Images Credits to ONE Championship
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