Fading Russian MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko beat Satoshi Ishii by TKO in the first round at the Dream New Year 2011 event. According to reports coming out of Japan, Fedor did more than finish Ishii in that one fight, he may have ended his MMA career. Fight Opinion has the details:
Japanese weekly publication Cyzo reports that doctors have told Ishii that he suffered a cerebral edema from the NYE beating. As a result, he was warned that any further blows to the head would cause some serious damage. As Cyzo put it, Ishii is facing a retirement crisis. There had been some discussion that he would face Ricardo Arona in late March in Brazil but that fight didn't look to be in the cards. After this latest development, the MMA prospects for Ishii look to be bleak as well.
If these reports prove true, Ishii, a 25-year-old with a 4-2-1 pro MMA record will go down in MMA history as one of the biggest busts of all time. A gold medal winner in Judo at the 2008 Olympics, he announced his intention to fight MMA in early 2009.
Ishii managed to bungle his initial round of interest by first announcing he would be signing with Dream, then nearly signing with the UFC, then settling on Sengoku, the weakest option. That delayed his MMA debut until New Year's Eve 2009 when he fought the legendary Hidehiko Yoshida (himself a former Olympic gold medalist in Judo) for Sengoku and managed to lose an ugly decision.
He then roamed the Pacific, fighting in Hawaii and New Zealand before returning to Japan to fight for Dream and K-1. He picked up a couple of meaningless wins then fought aging kickboxer Jerome Le Banner at the 2010 Dynamite! NYE show. That fight saw Ishii booed mercilessly by the Japanese crowd and sealed his fate as a popular attraction.
Now sadly it appears that Ishii's once-promising career may have been ended by Antonio Inoki's decision to book him against Fedor, still a very dangerous fighter if no longer the best in the world.
Zach Arnold tells the tale of Ishii's career in the full entry.
From Fight Opinion:
After the retirement of Hidehiko Yoshida, Satoshi Ishii was supposed to be the golden boy to become the new face, the new Japanese icon of an MMA scene that desparately needed a new hero from the Olympic judo world. Ishii, still a young man, had the advantage of being backed by K-Dash, the entertainment powerhouse company associated with Antonio Inoki and operated by Tatsuo Kawamura, a well-known entertainment player who just happened to go to school with the late Hiromichi Momose, the original Godfather of PRIDE.
Even with this management advantage, Ishii managed to screw his golden ticket to make serious cash in the fight game. He was never comfortable with the climate that was created for his presence in Japan. He showed up at press conferences and demonstrated goofy behavior. Rather than fans liking his quirky nature, he got booed and booed without mercy. He quickly became a pariah. Instead of being cheered as the next big thing, he was treated by the fans like a sworn and hated enemy. He fought a few squash matches and then managed to see his career implode on NYE 2010 against Jerome Le Banner. The fans cheered hard for Le Banner and booed Ishii without mercy for going to a decision.
Ishii promptly left Japan and sent many mixed signals. It was leaked in newspapers that he was going to become an American citizenship and that he had relocated to Los Angeles. He ended up getting married to a young Japanese girl and, nine months after marriage, promptly got divorced. He was supposed to fight on a Strikeforce card in Stockton but had visa troubles. He focused on training at Reign MMA (Mark Munoz's gym) and Black House in Southern California with Ed Buckley. Then, out of nowhere, reports surfaced that Ishii was going to be at the Olympic judo tryouts in Orlando, Florida in hopes of representing the United States one day. Like everything else, that didn't pan out. So, Ishii fought Paulo Filho soon in Brazil. That set up a fight offer against Fedor on NYE, taken at the very last minute. Predictably, Tokyo Broadcasting System said ‘no' to covering the Inoki-themed NYE event, thus defeating the purpose of having Ishii on the card given that he was never a strong live-house gate attraction. Fedor pummeled Ishii in Saitama and may have short-circuited an MMA career that is full of would-have-been and could-have-been scenarios.