Shinya Aoki wanted revenge and he got it, manhandling Kotetsu Boku en route to a second-round rear-naked choke win in the main event of ONE FC 8: Kings and Champions. Aoki earned the ONE FC lightweight belt with his victory.
Boku, a 35-year-old veteran of Shooto, upset Aoki's Evolve MMA teammate Zorobabel Moreira in late-2012 to claim the inaugural ONE FC strap, however he would achieve no such success against the reigning DREAM lightweight champion. Right off the bat, Aoki dived for quick single. From there he worked to Boku's back, softening him with punches before seizing a no-hooks neck crank. Boku defended adequately, though Aoki simply transitioned into a d'arce choke. Boku walked up the cage wall to fight it off, but his defense only allowed Aoki to sink the choke in deeper.
Aoki eventually worked his way into north/south, where he unloaded a succession of knees to Boku's head. Boku fought valiantly to survive as Aoki advanced into mount and latched onto an armbar. While "No Face" ultimately made it to the bell, he ate a series of heel kicks to the head in the process.
The second round saw more of the same, as Aoki immediately took the fight back to the ground, landing on top in half guard. Boku quickly gave up his back, and from there it was the beginning of the end. Aoki rained down a few punches before sinking in both of his hooks and seizing the fight-ending rear-naked choke.
The finish came at 2:01 of round two.
Afterward a visibly emotional Aoki thanked his coaches at Evolve MMA.
"This belt, Evolve's first belt," Aoki cried. "Congratulations (Evolve head trainer) Chatri (Sityodtong)."
In the night's co-main event, UFC veteran Brock Larson successfully moved up in weight and upset Dutch powerhouse Melvin Manhoef, storming back from early trouble to take a unanimous decision victory on the judges' scorecards.
The bout started off surprisingly slow, with neither man willing to over-engage. Action turned on a dime however, as Manhoef rocked Larson with a late head kick. A furious exchange ensued, which ended with Larson actually turning his back and running away from the K-1 veteran. Larson regained his wits in time to drop for an unsuccessful heel hook that held Manhoef off until the bell.
The second frame opened just as slow as the first, with referee Yuji Shimada eventually penalizing both fighters with a yellow card for inaction. Manhoef then crushed Larson with a monster right hand, pouncing with soccer kicks and short punches in an effort to finish off his foe. Once again the American grasped for a leglock to stave off danger, and once again it worked, as Larson regained top position.
Larson slowly worked towards Manhoef's back and latched on a deep armbar, however Manoef survived long enough to be saved by the bell.
Larson continued his comeback in the third frame, regaining top position early against the fence, then unleashing a salvo of punches that bloodied the face of Manhoef. He rode out remainder of the round on top, nearly finishing the fight several times as Manhoef flashed desperation thumbs up signs to the referee.
"That son of bugger hits like a truck," Larson said afterward. "I've never been hit so hard in my life. He had me rocked. I knew I had to be careful. I apologize for the first round being a little bit boring, but both of us we're kind of worried about each other's strengths. But the third round I turned it on, turned it up, did what I do, and got the victory."
Larson moves to 37-7 with the win, while Manhoef snaps a three-fight win streak and falls to 27-10-1 with the loss.
Complete ONE FC 8: Kings and Champions results can be seen below.
Lightweight championship: Shinya Aoki def. Kotetsu Boku vs. via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:01 of round 2
Brock Larson def. Melvin Manhoef via unanimous decision
Bantamweight tournament quarterfinal: Masakatsu Ueda def. Jens Pulver via submission (d'arce choke) at 3:52 of round 2
Bantamweight tournament quarterfinal: Kevin Belingon def. Thanh Vu via TKO (punches) at 1:00 of round 2
Eddie Ng def. Arnaud Lepont via submission (armbar) at 4:45 of round 2
Leandro Issa def. Yusup Saadulaev via unanimous decision
Alex Silva def. Rene Catalan via submission (armbar) at 4:34 of round 1
Bashir Ahmad def. Shannon Wiratchai via unanimous decision