A battle of two of the best lightweight grapplers in mixed martial arts turned out to be mostly a dull kickboxing match Monday, as Japan's Shinya Aoki defeated Brazil's Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro by decision in a Dream 10 fight that was fought mostly on the feet, not on the ground.
Many MMA fans worried that Aoki vs. Shaolin would turn into a boring stalemate, but that was because people thought these two world-class submission specialists would neutralize each other on the ground. Instead, the entire 10-minute first round saw the two fighters on their feet, as Aoki and Shaolin spent a lot of time circling each other, and Aoki used his left kick as his primary weapon. Aoki didn't do a lot of damage with those kicks, but they connected, and Shaolin never having an answer for them.
It was more kickboxing to start the second round before Ribeiro finally secured a double-leg takedown with 2:40 to go. But even on the ground, there wasn't a lot of action, as Aoki held Ribeiro in his guard and wouldn't let go. The fight ended on the ground without either fighter ever coming close to a submission, and the judges gave Aoki a unanimous decision based on his superior stand-up in the first round.
This was far from Aoki's most impressive fight, but he did earn the win, improving his record to 21-4. Ribeiro falls to 20-3.