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Olympic Judo gold medalist Satoshi Ishii signs with FEG

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Olympic Judo gold medalist Satoshi Ishii was set to make his mixed martial arts debut on New Year's Eve at the FieLDS Dynamite show at the end of this year. However it now looks as though he will just be making a brief cameo appearance like Fedor Emelianenko did back at DREAM 6 in September according to our friends at Nightmare of Battle.

While fans may be disappointed that he won't be competing, the good news is he's officially signed with Japan's Fighting & Entertainment Group (FEG) and is expected to compete in an upcoming DREAM event sometime in Spring 2009.

I'm sure he'll elaborate when his fan club holds a celebration party on November 3, but for now he is remaining tight-lipped about the details.

The December 31 Dynamite card features a plethora of top-tier fighters and fan favorites such as Kazushi Sakuraba, Shinya Aoki, Hayato Sakurai, Joachim Hansen, Yoshihiro Sato and many more.

One of the names being kicked around for Ishii's debut according to Tokyo-Sports is fellow Judo gold medalist Hidehiko Yoshida (8-6-1). Nothing is certain yet, but both athletes rank very high in the court of public opinion and a fight between them would no doubt be a huge draw.

After winning an Olympic gold medal in Judo this summer in Beijing, many Japanese fans regard Ishii as a national hero. His appearance in and of itself might help to bring Japanese mixed martial arts back into the mainstream like the glory days of PRIDE FC.

After winning his gold medal, Ishii issued an open challenge to heavyweight deity Fedor Emelianenko. I guess he didn’t see what Fedor did to 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.

In addition, his Judo Federation doesn’t seem too keen on the idea of him making the jump from Judo to mixed martial arts, despite Ishii's persistence.

This could be the spark that FEG needs to help ignite DREAM's sagging ratings. Unless of course he gets smashed by a journeyman ala Kimbo Slice.

Looks like we'll have to wait until November 3 to find out the rest.