If there's one big "name" heavyweight operating outside the bounds of a major MMA promotion in today's landscape it's Satoshi Ishii. An Olympic gold medal Judoka (no, not Ronda Rousey) for Japan, Ishii has been tabbed for stardom in MMA since his first bouts. In that way that only Japanese MMA seems able or willing to do, this means that he's been fighting the best available opposition right out of the gate; sink or swim from day one. At times he's sunk, and sunk hard. Lately, however, Ishii has been on something of a tear; beating a host of former UFC vets and establishing an eight fight winstreak over decent competition, without ever setting foot in the octagon. In today's landscape, that's practically unheard of.
Now, it looks like that streak will continue, as Ishii is set to take on Mirko Filipovic at an Inoki Genome Federation event on August 23rd. Ishii announced the booking via Twitter.
I'm going to fight against Mirko Crocop on August 23ed. 8月23日にミルコ クロコップ選手と試合が決まりました。 頑張ります。— Satoshi Ishii | 石井 慧 (@SatoshiIshii) May 21, 2014
For Filipovic this will represent his first return to MMA after a loss to current UFC heavyweight Oleksiy Oliynyk at Legend Fight Show last November. The "Croatian Cop" is 1-3 since a loss to Frank Mir in late 2010, but still one of the biggest name opponents in heavyweight MMA, not currently fighting in a major promotion. Instead he's returned to kickboxing, where he won a much diminished version of the K-1 World Grand Prix in 2013. Between now and his match with Ishii, Filipovic is scheduled to fight on the undercard of the Glory 17 PPV, although the withdrawl of Sergei Kharitonov has left him without an opponent as of yet.
For Ishii, this will look to be his ninth straight MMA victory over an opponent with more name value than competitive form. Although, and to his credit, Cro Cop's time as a top heavyweight was much, much more recent than opponents like Jeff Monson, Pedro Rizzo, or Tim Sylvia. A win here for Ishii won't set the world alight, but it does increase the chorus from die hard fans that wonder just when the UFC will make a strong offer for one of the world's better fighters over 205 lbs. Or, whether Ishii is fated to be the Mamed Khalidov of the next generation.