By Zach Arnold | November 24, 2011
On NYE at Saitama Super Arena:
- Welterweights: Hayato “Mach” Sakurai vs. Ryo Chonan
- Featherweights: Hiroyuki Takaya vs. Lion Takeshi
- Featherweights: Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Kazuyuki Miyata
- DREAM Bantamweight tournament: Bibiano Fernandes vs. Rodolfo Marques Diniz
- DREAM Bantamweight tournament: Masakazu Imanari vs. Antonio Banuelos
- DREAM Bantamweight tournament finals
The scuttlebutt coming out of Fedor’s decision win over Jeff Monson in Russia is that he will fight on the Inoki NYE card at Saitama Super Arena against Inoki-managed/owned-in-Japan fighter Satoshi Ishii. On paper, the fight makes sense for both parties. Fedor sees it as a chance to get a win, as ugly as it may be, over a relatively green fighter and an easy payday plus TV rights in Russia. Inoki’s camp views it as a chance to get Fedor back in Japan (where he’s the most valued, still) and that Ishii can somehow make the match ugly enough to get a decision win as long as Fedor doesn’t tag him early and knock his ass out.
So, what’s the problem with the fight? First, it’s likely going to be an ugly one to watch. Second, Ishii is not a draw in Japan. The Overton window on fans converting into Ishii supporters is done. It’s dead. This is a guy who in the time span of a year got booed out of SSA on NYE last year when he fought Jerome Le Banner. Japanese fans were backing a Frenchman over the Olympic medal hero. Since that time span, Ishii fled Japan, came back to get a divorce after 9 months with his (now) former wife who was 19 or 20 years old, had media reports surface that he wanted to become an American citizen so he could compete in the Olympics, traveled to Kings MMA in So. Cal to train so he could fight Paulo Filho in Brazil, to now ending up in the same location where the tumultuous cycle started a year ago? Nobody is as impulsive & reckless of a decision maker as this guy is right now. He had everything to gain in his MMA career when he first entered the business and totally squandered his golden ticket.
Remember all the talk about Ishii wanting to be in the UFC? He could have fit into the plans of UFC Japan and actually had a chance to grow up as a fighter. Instead, he’s back to do the business of Inoki by fighting a fading, yet accomplished & decorated veteran who is likely going to produce a fan reaction that will resemble the Le Banner fight. Of course, if Ishii beats Fedor on NYE (even if he gets booed out of the building), I definitely could see Dana marking out and paying Ishii a lot of money to appear on the SSA card. It still wouldn’t change the fact that Ishii isn’t much of a draw, but it would be a great ’screw you’ to send to the PRIDE fans for a vanity show.
Speaking of UFC Japan, here’s the updated card line-up:
- UFC Lightweight title match: Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson
- Lightweights: Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon
- Welterweights: Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields
- Middleweights: Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch
- Featherweights: Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart Palaszewski
- Heavyweights (rumored): Mark Hunt vs. Cheick Kongo
Think the fans will get up at 6 AM to watch the main card at SSA at 10 AM if guys like Rampage aren’t on the card?
If you’ve been following MMA Supremacy on Twitter, you might have heard that the second Fox network show on January 28th in Chicago will feature Rampage Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin (why?) and Chael Sonnen vs. Mark Munoz. If Mark had trouble with Okami, I wonder how the fight with Chael will turn out?