One of the most bizarre moments in MMA history happened on April 29th, 2009, when two legends on opposite ends of the weight spectrum, Shinya Aoki and Fedor Emelianenko, met in an MMA exhibition match. The match happened at an M-1 Challenge event that was presented by Affliction, because that’s who Emelianenko was signed with at the time. It was contested under special rules and would only last a single five-minute round, with both fighters being required to wear gi jackets which ended up giving them a similar look to sambo competitors.
Both Shinya Aoki and Fedor Emelianenko were at the very height of their powers at this moment in time, with Aoki having a professional record of 20-4 (1) while Emelianenko held an even more impressive 30-1 (1) record. Aoki had just lost a fight with Hayato Sakurai in the opening round of the DREAM Welterweight grand prix a few weeks prior, as he had moved up in weight after getting to the final of the Lightweight grand prix the previous year. Emelianenko on the other hand had just knocked out Andrei Arlovski in stunning fashion at the beginning of the year, in what would end up being the knockout of the year in 2009.
Both Aoki and Emelianenko were the reigning WAMMA world champions in the Lightweight and Heavyweight divisions respectively, and the exhibition match was put together as something to entertain fans. It came as part of a long tradition in MMA outside of the United States where the entertaining the fans often took precedence over legitimate matchups, and so-called ‘circus fights’ were the norm. Regardless, the match itself was phenomenal, with the two going back and forth and showing some phenomenal grappling before Emelianenko managed to submit Aoki.
The footage of Shinya Aoki competing against Fedor Emelianenko in an MMA exhibition match under special rules was uploaded to the official YouTube channel of Jiu Jitsu World:
Or for more of our articles looking into moments throughout BJJ history, visit our throwback archives.