Satoshi Ishii was supposed to be the heavyweight star of Japanese MMA. At least that's what Japanese promoters were hoping when they threw him in with Fedor Emelianenko in only his seventh pro fight. Instead he got clocked and quickly, by a faded, but not entirely diminished, version of the greatest heavyweight of our era.
And maybe, on this rare occasion, it was for the best. Since then, Ishii's matchmaking has been much more indicative of his level. With a slow and steady progression of name fighters who are well past their prime, but hold just enough relevance to give him a stable resume on his way to the big leagues. After losing to Fedor, Ishii has gone 3-0 with victories over Tim Sylvia, Sean McCorkle, and Kerry Schall, his most recent two coming via first round submission.
Now a new opponent has been announced, and much like the last three it promises a lot of name value and very little danger. Tatame reports that Pedro Rizzo has told World Fight Radio that he will be fighting Ishii this May at an event in Japan yet to be named. Ishii's last three fights have all come under the IGF banner, and this one likely will too.
Coupled with this announcement is a return to competitive Judo for Ishii. USA Judo has offered the following press release:
Japanese Olympic Judo Gold Medalist and MMA fighter, Satoshi Ishii, returns to USA Judo’s Senior National Championships this weekend to fight in the open division.
USA Judo confirmed that Ishii is registered to fight in the open division at the Senior National Championships, scheduled to compete on Sunday, April 14, at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Ishii wore the U.S. flag on his gi as he dominated the open division at the Senior Nationals in 2011, and it was reported that Ishii said he wanted to earn his U.S. citizenship and compete for the USA.
While he's been fighting in Japan, his move to America and hopes of US citizenship, suggest strongly that he's looking to take his MMA career stateside as well. At only 26 and with a record of 7-2-1 it may not be long before we see the former Olympic gold medal Judoka competing in the World Series of Fighting, Bellator, or perhaps even the UFC.