By Suhas BhatFollow @@suhasrbhat
Reporting from the Singapore Indoor Stadium
Seeking to avenge Evolve team-mate Zorobabel Moreira's loss to Boku in a title fight last year, Aoki gave the 35-year-old little chance to settle into the fight and attempted a series of flying submissions within the first couple of minutes. Boku was clearly unable to assert control and was doing his best to prevent Aoki from grappling him in vital areas.
But the Dream Lightweight champion wore away at his opponent's resolve by exhibiting great back control, ensuring that Boku did not have the time nor his opponent within his sight to grab the initiative in the fight.
The fleet-footed challenger carried out a neck clamp within the third minute that saw Boku fall to the ground. Although he eventually managed to escape the firm hold, he was in a worse situation moments later when he fell victim to Aoki's d'arce choke.
Essentially forcing Boku's neck to be choked from behind for nearly two minutes, it appeared that Aoki did enough to tap out the incumbent but Boku endured the pain, and the lack of oxygen, to break free with a minute remaining in the opening round.
Aoki was adamant about killing off the bout as quickly as possible and went about trying to secure a full mount position, straddling Boku's chest from where he could rain blows, and even managed to secure an armbar in the final minute. The bell rang just in time to prevent an ignonimous first-round defeat for the Crazy Bee fighter.
The Evolve fighter did not have to wait long for the win as his pace and agility earned him a back-hold within seconds of the restart. Boku even adopted a foetal position in a bid to guard his head from a flurry of punches and gather his thoughts.
It mattered little as Aoki, at the end of the third minute, managed to squeeze into the position required to carry out a rear-naked choke. The referee quickly spotted that Boku was helplessly trapped by the move and announced that Aoki won the fight via submission 56 seconds into round two.
With the victory, Aoki's record improves to 33-6-0 and the manner of his victory suggests that a long reign lies ahead for the new Lightweight champion.
Evolve founder Chatri Sityodtong definitely believes his fighter has come a long way since joining the Singapore outfit last year.
"When Shinya joined the Evolve team, he was primarily a grappler and he didn't have a strong standing game but now he can be called a complete martial artist. He's going to get even better with the world champion trainers he has at Evolve MMA," the 42-year-old said in post-fight media scrum.
"We believe we have the best team to help Aoki become the legend that he deserves to be."
Aoki was visibly emotional after the fight and broke down in tears at having won his first belt for Evolve. He was especially grateful for the support given by his MMA gym and even tried to wrap his new title belt around Chatri.
The 29-year-old also agreed that the fight turned out to be far more of an easier affair than expected.
"Yes, I won easily but the training was very hard. The scariest part of this whole tournament has been sparring with my Muay Thai coach! That was more scarier than the fight," he said.
"The fight went according to the gameplan that my team set out for me. I don't care who I fight next, that will be for my coaches to decide. I'll fight anybody, anywhere on the planet.
"I fight alone in the cage but it's the whole team and everyone in my life that has helped me win this title.
"I cry out of joy and also because I'm so happy."