Sports Nippon newspaper in Japan is reporting that 100 kg Olympic judoka Satoshi Ishii will make his ring debut in MMA on 12/31 at K-1’s Dynamite event at Saitama Super Arena. The newspaper further claims that Ishii will make the full-time MMA conversion in Spring of 2009 (after he graduates from college).
This would seem to contradict earlier speculation that Ishii would be making his MMA debut against SENGOKU star (and fellow olympic gold medalist) Hidehiko Yoshida.
No word as yet on Ishii's opponent. It's too much to hope that they'll let him start his MMA career with a relatively easy fight. Fortunately Fedor has other plans.
Nightmare of Battle compiled some great anecdotes from various people who have been training jiu jitsu with Ishii recently including ADCC competitor Denis Roberts. Roberts hints that Ishii will be going to Seattle to train MMA:
Also as for the team he joins… He said something about training in Seattle. Who is in Seattle? I dunno. I’ll have to find out what he’s planning.
Who's in Seattle? A certain Matt Hume. Ishii could certainly do worse than that.
Ishii fighting on the NYE Dynamite card seems like the kind of thing that will draw major ratings in Japan. And unlike previous olympic judokas who have entered MMA, Ishii is young and is getting into the sport with plenty of time to build a well-rounded skill set.
To say that I expect big things from Ishii is an understatement. This kid has the potential to not only revive the Japanese MMA scene as a draw but also has the potential to become a champion in the sport.
UPDATE: Nightmare of Battle has an updated report:
In a new article at the Sponichi website it says that it became clear on the 28th that Satoshi Ishii will enter DREAM and that he will greet the fans in the ring at Dynamite!! on NYE. Apparently he has already contacted DREAM in absolute secrecy. There is a celebration party by his support group/fan club on November 3rd in Osaka where people are predicting that Ishii might comment on this.