Relevancy is a funny thing in the Heavyweight division. It's like a "Mystery Spot," one of those houses that's been built on an incline but the perspective has been skewed to look like it hasn't. From the outside everything appears normal enough, it's only when you start poking around that it's obvious normal rules don't apply. I mention this, because last weekend Satoshi Ishii defeated Pedro Rizzo by unanimous decision.
Ishii, as many may be aware, is something of a rising prospect in the heavyweight division (or a proven bust depending on how heavily you read into his Fedor fight). He's young, he's got an incredible martial arts base (as one of the worlds great Judokas), and he competes in a division where even a minimal amount of athleticism can see you pass 80% of the challenges put in front of you.
Pedro Rizzo, for his part has remained relevent by making the "legends" tour of the sport and fighting men in a similar position as himself. He's 39 and fights quite well considering the mileage he's put on his body. He's still capable of crushing the Ken Shamrocks, Gary Goodridges, and Jeff Monson's of the world, but has failed badly when given an opportunity against still relevant fighters. All of which means he's exactly the type of fight which should mean nothing for someone like Ishii, a clear no win situation, but he's not and that's fine.
The fight was a mostly humdrum, back and forth striking afair. Not a clear victory for Ishii, who faded in the third round, but not a poor decision as he clearly took the first and probably scraped by with the second.
For both fighters, this bout should mean nothing, and considering the track Pedro Rizzo is happy to be on it probably will actually mean nothing. I could easily see him getting the winner of Ken Shamrock vs. Ian Freeman in July, if neither fighter realizes what a terrible idea that fight is before then. But for Ishii, this win is worth naught, boardering on a detraction. It's been 5 years since Rizzo was in a meaningful fight, and 10 since he won a relevant one. The fact that Rizzo gave Ishii trouble should give anyone looking to offer him a future payday pause.
However, in a division (and, to some extent, sport) where fighters are chosen largely by their ability to win any fights consistently this one will no doubt have the desired effect of bumping Ishii a little closer to the big leagues. And it's fine, because something has to. Until the UFC can find concrete ways to lure and develop larger athletes into the sport, heavyweight will always be paper thin and as long as it is, every win counts.