Olympic gold medalist Satoshi Ishii passes on UFC to join World Victory Road

Olympic Judo gold medalist Satoshi Ishii has opted to pursue a career with Japanese mixed martial arts promotion World Victory Road (home of Sengoku), according to our friends over at Nightmare of Battle.

Though it took a while to come to this conclusion.

Last year he verbally agreed to sign with Japan’s Fighting & Entertainment Group (FEG), who operate organizations DREAM & K-1. He even held a fan club celebration party to announce the signing.

Then he had a sudden change of heart late last year, denouncing his agreement to DREAM and apologizing for his failure to commit so he could try make his way over to America, seemingly dead set on making his debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

Here’s what Ishii had to say on the move to the UFC last year:

"I made up my mind finally - the UFC is where I want to fight. I’m a white belt in MMA. I understand the possibility of starting from WEC. If I was an unknown judoka, I would definitely build up my MMA experience in Japan first. However, I have decided put my Judo gold medal to use. I believe my name value will attract the UFC."

Turns out he didn’t make up his mind up after all and then started to backpedal on his desire to fight for the UFC and just like DREAM before, began stalling negotiations with the UFC to consider alternate offers from Affliction, or anyone else.

To say he’s indecisive would be an understatement.

Now it appears he’s once again laid down his hat and committed to another organization, this time Japan’s World Victory Road. I should caution that he’s only signed a provisional contract with them, which in the world of Ishii apparently means zilch.

He is expected to sign the real thing this Thursday at a public signing event.

Let’s just hope he can go three days without changing his mind and finally commit to a mixed martial organization once and for all.

If he does, it will be a two year contract for World Victory Road with a debut sometime later this fall.

He’s spent the last two months down in Brazil training with the UFC’s newly crowned Light Heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. He now expects to make pit stops in Holland and Russia to train with Heavyweight deity Fedor Emelianenko in preparation for his debut.

Though the latter may not be for certain because after winning his gold medal in Beijing, Ishii issued an open challenge to Fedor Emelianenko. I guess he didn’t see what Fedor did to Judo silver medalist Naoya Ogawa at PRIDE Final Conflict back in 2004.

Fedor of course smiled and went about his business, as Ishii has yet to prove that he can transition from Judo to mixed martial arts - and a few questions have been raised of his ability to strike (or be struck).

Though if Ishii transitions and proves successful, their paths may cross somewhere down the line.

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