"Kind of like Mike Tyson," Sityodtong chimes in. "Mike Tyson used to say that. In the locker room he cried, he punched the wall. He was so scared. Once he got into the ring, he just a wrecking machine.
"I've been in Shinya's corner now for the last few years. I also say the same thing. I see that when Shinya's walking from the locker room to the cage, the transformation happens and he becomes a warrior once he steps into the cage or the ring.
"He has no problems breaking bones and ripping arms off in a fight," Sityodtong continues. "He is very careful in training with his teammates, but all gloves are off during a fight. He has a kill or be killed mentality and he will do whatever it takes to win the fight -- within the rules, of course -- even if it means breaking bones. He's unemotional about it."
For years Aoki has been considered one of the top lightweights outside of Zuffa's behemoth umbrella. But only since he and Sityodtong forged their partnership has Aoki seemingly put everything together. Now Aoki has a sense of family, loyalty to his Evolve teammates. In particular Aoki has grown close with fellow ONE FC lightweight contender Zorobabel Moreira. Sityodtong calls them the "best of friends."
The bond extends so deep that Aoki was hesitant to challenge for the lightweight title after signing with ONE FC, as Moreira, fresh off a gruesome soccer kick knockout of Roger Huerta, was the favorite to defeat Kotetsu Boku and claim the inaugural strap in late-2012. But the best laid plans in mixed martial arts hardly ever end as expected, and Boku soundly finished the Brazilian early in the third round.
The loss was so devastating, Aoki says Moreira still hasn't spoken about it.
"They're the best friends on Evolve Fight Team," Sityodtong explains. "So the fact that they haven't spoken about that fight really just shows you how much Zoro is still heartbroken over that fight. Definitely revenge, the revenge factor if you will, Shinya definitely has that element. He's very patriotic for Evolve Fight Team. So there is definitely a true storyline. He's not only going to fight Kotetsu Boku for himself, but he's training [to win] for one of his teammates on Evolve Fight Team."