Most MMA fighters agree that the UFC is the pinnacle of the sport. It is the organization that every fighter hopes to one day join. In this day and age, the UFC very rarely has trouble signing fighters they desire. One notable holdout was Fedor Emelianenko, who after numerous negotiations and rejected contracts, the UFC gave up. Recent reports suggest that another elite fighter has recently turned down a UFC contract as well, and that is Shinya Aoki.
Aoki, once considered the best Lightweight in the world and one of the best MMA grapplers, is a veteran of Pride, Bellator, Dream, StrikeForce, Shooto, and now One FC. Aoki holds notable victories over Eddie Alvarez, Gesias Cavalcante, and Tatsuya Kawajiri. He currently fights at Featherweight and is on a four fight winning streak. It is fairly easy to understand why the UFC would want Aoki.
Unfortunately for the UFC, Aoki has turned down the contract in favor of staying with One FC. Evolve MMA founder, Chatri Sityodtong, confirmed the news on Facebook, including two other fighters who also turned down UFC offers:
The rumors are true. UFC offered contracts to 3 fighters on the Evolve Fight Team: Shinya Aoki, Eddie Ng, and Leandro Brodinho. After careful reflection, Shinya and Eddie have both decided to stay in ONE FC due to more favorable economics. Brodinho has not made a final decision yet and is currently thinking through everything.
The term ‘favorable economics’ must mean Aoki was unhappy with the amount the UFC offered him. There is no word on whether the UFC will give Aoki a counter offer. For the time being, Aoki will stay in One FC and continue his run for the Featherweight title.