Shinya Aoki and Marat Gafurov look to erase their memories of defeat as they step inside the ONE Championship cage together for a Grappling Super-Match at ONE: Kings of Courage in Jakarta, Indonesia, next weekend.
Aoki, who was dominated by Ben Askren at ONE: Immortal Pursuit just two months ago, will compete in his second grappling exclusive contest with the organization. In May 2015, the Japanese MMA legend rolled with submission grappling expert (and recent ONE Championship signing) Garry Tonon in what was the first-ever Grappling Super-Match for the Asian promotion.
Despite Tonon eventually winning the contest with yet another heel hook, Aoki showcased his grappling techniques inside the cage – specifically his black belt in Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In fact, Aoki controlled the majority of the bout, but control means nothing in this submission-focused contest.
Much like Aoki, Gafurov is stepping into the ONE Championship cage after experiencing a painful defeat. But unlike his opponent, Gafurov’s knockout loss was the first loss in the Russian’s career. After a lengthy stint as the featherweight champion, Gafurov was dethroned by the rising Martin Nguyen in the second round of their bout in August 2017.
While this Grappling Super-Match might not be as exciting as seeing the two slug it out in a mixed martial arts bout, the contrasting styles of grappling make this a fascinating matchup. On one hand, Gafurov’s suffocating (literally) combination of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Pankration has proved unbeatable for all but one of his last seven opponents. On the other, Aoki’s continued presence as one of the greatest grapplers to compete in mixed martial arts will ensure that this is a must-watch battle between two elite competitors.