Shinya Aoki and Satoru Kitaoka were training partners before the call came for them to face one another at DREAM's New Year's Eve show.  The fight was fierce with no quarter asked or given and many ringside observers remarked that there seemed to be no love lost between the two former friends.

In a reminder that fighting is simply a form of sporting competition and is seldom genuinely personal, Aoki and Kitaoka will be reunited together once again as training partners at Evolve MMA.

Aoki prepares for all his fights there and is a full time member of the Evolve MMA Fight Team but this will be Kitaoka's first visit and the two will have the chance to train together like they did before they found themselves facing each other as opponents.

Aoki is set to fight at ONE FC: Pride of a Nation in Manila on August 31 against an as yet unnamed opponent and Kitaoka was last seen defeating Katsunori Kikuno at DEEP in June, although he doesn't currently have an upcoming fight booked. A number of the DEEP and DREAM fighters have signed for ONE FC, which has overtaken the Japanese promotions to establish itself as the dominant force in Asian MMA, but there is no indication that Kitaoka is set to join Aoki on the ONE FC roster.

Instead he is looking to take his existing game to the next level as, having sparred with Aoki before he started training in Singapore, he was said to have been shocked by how much his Muay Thai had improved when they fought late last year and is looking to work on his stand up with some of the trainers Evolve MMA.

Among them are a number of former Lumpinee champions including Namsaknoi Yudthagarngamtorn, Orono Wor Petchpun and Attachai Fairtex who were instrumental in devising a game plan for Aoki's fight with Kitaoka which saw him continually hammer his former training partner with knees and kicks which could well have finished the fight had he not preferred to use them to set up takedowns.

Kitaoka, who is primarily a submission grappler, is hoping to use the time in Singapore to work on his stand up and become a more well rounded martial artist. He is also going to spend some time working on strategy with wrestling coach Heath Sims and polishing up his ground skills with Aoki and the team of BJJ black belts but primarily he has told friends he wants to improve on his Muay Thai.

Both men are black belts under Yuki Nakai and they were the founding members of the Nippon Top Team. Now that the fight is out of the way normal service has been resumed and these two will be training together side by side once again at Evolve MMA in Singapore.

PHOTO CREDIT - STRIKEFORCE

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