According to Yahoo! Japan, Satoshi Ishii's debut will likely be pushed back to Sengoku XI on November 7th instead of the rumored debut date of August 2nd. Sengoku's public relations' department cited that they didn't want to push Ishii, and they'd like to be very careful with the 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Judo champion. This has caused a bit of a stir among hardcore fans as to what the holdup may actually be from Ishii, and there have been some strange things going on with Ishii as of late.
Zach Arnold over at MMAMemories.com has an article pointing out the strange happenings in Japan. While Zach has a flare for the keying in on and creating controversy, some of the points he makes do create a little confusion. Interestingly enough, Ishii was reported to have been at a photo-op a few days ago in which he talked about his future plans in MMA. Two days later, it was revealed that he had sustained a minor hernia-related injury and would have surgery on June 25th. With Sengoku's PR coming out and simply stating they don't want to rush Ishii, it seems a bit strange that Ishii suddenly was pushed back two days after stating his future plans in the sport in relation to his debut coming up.
Arnold points out that his training is either not going well, his management team is unsatisfied with the opponents being offered to Ishii, or there is less interest than previously thought in Ishii's debut fight. All of these are valid concerns for Ishii's management, but also a concern for Sengoku as they are probably dumping some huge capital into Ishii.
Training may be a huge problem right now, but I think the possibility of finding good opponents that Ishii can defeat is the bigger issue. Ishii will still need real in-ring experience in order to be a top-flight heavyweight, and he'll need to be brought up carefully instead of being thrown to the wolves in classic Japanese MMA style.
The big problem is that Sengoku's heavyweight division is very shallow at the bottom. Fujita is one of the bottom guys within the division along with a near-retirement Hidehiko Yoshida and Yoshihiro "KISS" Nakao. The problem is that all of those names have potential to defeat a green Satoshi Ishii at this point in his career. Fujita may be old, but he does have the wrestling ability to power opponents to the floor and eek out decisions. Nakao has power in his hands, and Yoshida has the lasting ability coupled with the judo to potentially upset Ishii. Out of all of those names however, Yoshida may be the easiest to defeat. He's long been rumored to be Ishii's debut opponent, but nothing has been confirmed.
After those names, we begin entering bigger fights that easily could sidetrack Ishii's progress. Names like Roger Gracie and Antonio Silva come to mind, but the prospect of picking up DREAM heavyweights to fight Ishii has also come up. The problem is that the DREAM heavyweight roster doesn't help at all. Mark Hunt, Sergei Kharitonov, Rameau Sokoudjou, Jeff Monson, Gegard Mousasi, and even potentially throwing in Josh Barnett down the road. I would suggest "Big" Jim York, but he's been sucked into the TUF vortex with the UFC.
In my mind, this is what made Sengoku a horrible choice for Ishii. Sure, he'll get paid the big bucks in sponsorships in Japan, but his chance to showcase his talent in the ring is limited due to the shallow talent pool. Unless Sengoku pulls from promotions like DEEP, HEAT, M-1, or Pancrase to find greener opponents for Ishii, it doesn't seem like a great fit at all. The UFC would have likely been able to produce a much larger stable of easier opponents for him to help him develop into a better fighter.
Now, we can only hope Monte Cox pushes Tim Sylvia to Sengoku to take on Ishii. I would watch that in a heartbeat.