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Shinya Aoki Cannot Wear Pants for Strikeforce Fight

Shinya AokiWhen Shinya Aoki makes his American MMA debut against Gilbert Melendez on the April 17 Strikeforce card, he'll do it without the trademark pants that he's become well-known for wearing.

Tennessee Athletic Commission Director Jeffrey Mullen told MMA Fighting that the state's rules do not permit Aoki to wear the style of pants he typically wears while fighting in Japan. That's good news for Melendez, as those pants help Aoki with his creative submissions.

"We've researched the matter and determined that if he wears spandex it needs to stop above the knee," Mullen said. "The way the unified rules read is it can be MMA shorts, kickboxing shorts or bike shorts, and it's my understanding that if it stops above the knee it would be considered bike shorts. He won't be able to wear the pants, but he will be able to wear that material, as long as it stops above the knee."

Strikeforce officials told MMA Fighting that they'd go along with whatever the Tennessee commission ruled. Aoki will no doubt be disappointed by the ruling but he has said in the past that he doesn't believe the pants confer a great advantage.

However, between spandex shorts down to the knee and, potentially, sleeves on both his knees and both his ankles, Aoki could get much the same benefit that he gets from his usual grappling pants. Mullen said fighters in Tennessee are allowed to wear sleeves on their legs.

"They can wear just a smooth neoprene sleeve with nothing else in it on their knees and their ankles," Mullen said. "It can't be a gripping material but they can wear a smooth, neoprene-only sleeve on their knees or ankles."

Expect Aoki to wear spandex shorts to his knees and sleeves on his knees. But not the pants he wears in Japan.

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