Shinya Aoki is taking his fight against Gilbert Melendez very seriously. So serious in fact, he basically says the fate of Japanese MMA rests on his shoulders on April 17.

“If I lose this fight, MMA in Japan is over. Japan will become a colony of the USA.”

“I love Japan and it is certain that if I lose, Japan will become a colony of US MMA. Some maniacs say that USA’s MMA is the best but I do not worship US MMA so this is big war to me, just like my fight against [Sengoku champion] Hirota [on New Year’s Eve].”

“Yes, this is a high risk, high return proposition. If I get the return, I give it to DREAM because I am a son of DREAM. The same as in the New Year’s Eve fight I am thinking ‘OK, I kill you!’ The relationship between me and the DREAM staff is real. They know my mind in this fight – Japan’s lightweight division is world class, and of the same standard as the US lightweight talent pool. Shinya Aoki is an icon of the Japanese lightweights division and so this fight become mega match.”

“To be honest I am far from [Takanori Gomi and Caol Uno]. They are not the best of Japan. As champion of DREAM, my risk is much bigger than theirs. But if pressure destroys me I am not a true fighter,” Aoki says.

“I can risk my life if needs be. I am a warrior…. I am really serious about MMA. So I do not talk about technique now, because this fight is not about technique but about instinct and heart! One tough guy will stand, another tough guy will fall. Everyone, look upon this scene.”

No pressure. Someone might want to tell Aoki that Melendez is willing to give him a rematch in Japan if he loses next Saturday night, you know in case Aoki decides its better to jump off a bridge than show his face again in Japan or something. In other words, the outcome of this fight isn’t going to determine the winner of an imaginary war.

Image via Esther Lin for Showtime