A press conference was held today in Tokyo by World Victory Road to announce the signing of 2008 Olympic Judo Gold Medalist Satosho Ishii for the promotion. Previously signing with the UFC is reported to have no impact on Ishii’s negotiations with WVR to appear in their Sengoku events.
MMA Weekly has the following quote from Dana White regarding Ishii:
“The thing is this: the kid’s sitting on a lottery ticket right now,” UFC President Dana White said in February, according to MMAWeekly.com. “He’s being offered millions of dollars in Japan. … If he comes back and tells me I want to take this lottery ticket, I’ll give it to him. He needs to decide what he wants to do with his life. Just because I have a contract with him, I’m not going to try to tell him what he should do with his life.”
This news marks a turn of events for news on the Gold Medalist Judoka. It was previously reported on several websites that Ishii was set to appear on the tenth season of the popular Spike television series, The Ultimate Fighter. Ishii’s Facebook page appeared to confirm that rumor yet now, this signing may not allow the Japanese fighter to do both. It is important to note that he has a clause in his new 2- year contract allowing him to fight for other promotions outside of Japan and Ishii has previously indicated a desire to fight in the UFC late last year. “I have finally made up my mind,” Ishii told Nikkan Sports in December. “The UFC is where I want to fight.” Time will tell where he really makes his MMA debut. WVR director Takahiro Kokuho believes Ishii’s first fight for the promotion can come as early as August 2 and as late as the New Year’s Eve event at the end of the year.
In any case, for World Victory Road and Japanese MMA in general, this signing might mark a significant turning point in their campaign to get back on network television. With WVR and Dream alike staging strong events, fans may see a resurgence of MMA in the once Pride-dominated country.