Cesar Gracie Welcomes Shinya Aoki With Open Arms

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MMA trainer Cesar Gracie said he had an easy decision to make when he first heard that Japan’s top lightweight, Shinya Aoki, wanted to train with his squad following a loss to Gilbert Melendez at Strikeforce last weekend.

Gracie, who said Aoki reached out to him via a third party about training at his northern California gym, said he sees it as more than just a chance to help out a colleague. To him, it’s a chance to help improve the quality of Japanese MMA in general and pay back a family debt.

“My take on it is, it goes back to the origins of jiu-jitsu and how I got into this art, how my family got into it through the Japanese back in Brazil. I’ve noticed that Japan is not faring too well lately as a whole in the MMA game,” Gracie told MMAFighting.com. “To me it feels almost like a chance to give back a little bit and help the MMA game in Japan. A lot of people are making light of it, how the Japanese have just been getting smashed when they come over here and face American competition. They’re a few years behind and I think people realize that. So I said yeah, he should come over and train.”

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