When former double-divisional UFC champ Randy Couture announced his pending retirement earlier this week it marked the end of career involving a man seen by many as being one of the sport’s best. As it turns out, the same seven-day span will also feature the conclusion of another fighter’s journey in Mixed Martial Arts though one who may ultimately be looked back on as one of the best that never was.

According to a report on The Japan Times, Satoshi Ishii has decided to forgo a future in MMA in favor of returning to judo competition where he won gold at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. However, in a follow up story, rather than heading back to Japan he will attempt to gain citizenship in the United States and compete in 2012 with an American flag on his back.

Ishii had been scheduled to fight earlier this month at Strikeforce Challengers 15 against Scott Lighty but was forced to withdraw after running into travel issues after the recent disasters in Japan. As such, the 24-year old will exit MMA with a 4-1 record after making his professional debut on New Year’s Eve in 2009. Though he lost the bout by way of decision to Hidehiko Yoshida he quickly rebounded in 2010 with four straight wins including a December 31 victory over famed kickboxer Jerome LeBanner.