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Satoshi Ishii makes surprise appearance during Sengoku’s “Seventh Battle”

The mysterious start to Satoshi Ishi’s professional mixed martial arts career continued on Saturday in Japan at the Saitama Arena during Sengoku’sSeventh Battle.”

Ishii entered the ring during the show’s intermission and was seen wearing a UFC t-shirt. After wishing the crowd a Happy New Year, the former judoka referred to himself as an MMA fighter. Ishii also took the opportunity to dispels rumors that Bob Sapp’s victory over the masked professional wrestler “Kinniku Mantaro” during FEG’sDynamite!!” event on New Year’s Eve was against him.

Some confusion was created by the loss because the role of Mantaro, a popular character within Japanese Anime, was played by Akihito Tanaka, who was a Olympic bronze medalist for Japan in freestyle wrestling.

Ishii closed the interview by re-stating his intentions to begin his career in the U.S. but vowed to return to Japan one day and intimated he would do so as a world champion.

The appearance was surprising because Ishii, a gold medal winner in judo while representing his native country of Japan during this past summer’s Olympic games in Beijing, at one point had reportedly signed with FEG’s DREAM promotion and was expected to appear at “Dynamite!!” Sengoku is considered to be a direct competitor to DREAM.

However, the deal between Ishii and DREAM apparently never became finalized as he would later be quoted as saying that he considered the UFC to be the top promotion in the world and it was his desire to compete there. Soon after the comments became public, UFC President Dana White invited Ishii to spend time in the United States during the New Year’s holiday in order to attend UFC 92 while also touring several of Las Vegas’ top MMA gyms.

Despite not having signed a contract with the UFC, the promotion still featured him on-camera several times during the Japanese feed of the UFC 92 pay-per-view. Soon after, a release was issued on which proclaimed that “exclusive” negotiations had begun between both parties.

“Satoshi Ishii has the potential to be very successful in mixed martial arts,” White was quoted as saying. “We can’t wait to start working with Mr. Ishii, we look forward to helping him with his training, his career, and his eventual debut in a professional fight.”

To date, there have been no official reports that Ishii has formally signed with the UFC.

  • Davey D says:

    At least he has Fedor Emlianenko to look up to. Not only is Fedor a Master of Sports in Sambo but he also has judo experience too. Not many other Judo player’s have dominated MMA over time. Karo, Yoshida, Nastula and other’s have done well but never really dominated. Will Ishii follow the former or the latter? The UFC is a very large stage to make your start in but if he can do it then let it be. The gold medal helps in the media but how willl he perform when it is game time? We shall see…

  • Cathedron says:

    I hope he signs with the UFC. I’m not sure if he’s ready for that high of level of competition, but I’d like to see what he can do. I’m not holding my breath, though. Despite what we’re hearing, I’m strongly doubting that he’ll be in the UFC in 2009. My spidey senses say he’s going into a Japanese org or pro wrestling.

  • Marshall says:

    The UFC has a clear bias against Asian fighters. The best move right now would be to fight in Japan to get some experience then if he wants to make a move elsewhere do it later on the guys only 22 years old.

  • Big Dummy says:

    I’m torn on this one. I just hope he gets good advice and doesn’t get rushed into anything. I hope he gets brought along slowly and doesn’t get thrown in there against higher caliber fighters than he is ready for and from the way the Japanese make fights sometimes I’m afraid they wouldn’t give him that time to develop. I don’t think the UFC is a good starting point either. He needs to find somewhere he can get in some good fights against guys with the same comparable experience level to start with.

  • CubanLinx says:

    @ Marshall: how does the UFC have a bias against asian fighters? just because the promotion is more populated by Americans and Brazilians does not mean there is a bias against asian fighters.

  • greg says:

    it might just b a plan to have him sign with sengoku and after he wins two or three fights then he signs with the ufc….dana mightve set this up so then he has a huge fanbase when he debuts with the ufc at ufc 110!! haha

  • Tyler says:

    “greg” Dana didn’t set up shit. I’m sure the guy is just in his home country watching some fights and fielding offers. He’s a gold medal winner he already has a huge fan base!


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