(Yeah, they are less impressive in real life.)
I initially doubted that the UFC would have much interest in Ishii, since he’s an MMA newbie with very little name recognition in the States (and a hefty price tag, probably). The only way this would make sense is if the UFC was planning on expanding into Japan soon, as some are suggesting. Even then it might not be worth it, unless they intend to put on as many shows in Japan as they do in the U.K. now. But Ishii is undeterred; he wants to fight in the Octagon so badly that he may be leaving an obscene amount of cash on the table in his home country.
Ishii, who turned 22 on Thursday, was expected to ink a deal with Fighting and Entertainment Group and Dream, which some Japanese media outlets alleged was worth in the neighborhood of 500 million yen ($5.86 million USD), and make an in-ring appearance on New Year’s Eve to greet the crowd and announce his debut in 2009.
I wonder how much money Ishii would make in the UFC – 40k to show/40k to win, at most? Maybe he should take FEG’s money now, establish himself in DREAM, and then bounce to the UFC when the time is right. Or would that be too logicial? Meanwhile, FEG President Sadaharu Tanigawa is trying to guilt Ishii into staying local:
"It’s unfortunate that the man with the Japanese MMA world on his shoulders is going abroad. We’d like him to become a pillar of Japanese MMA. I think it’s important to have dreams but we want him to understand that the world has an expectation of him, and this is his destiny."
You hear that, Satoshi? You are the One. Now go choke out Hong Man Choi in this New Year’s Eve freak show match. It is what you were put on Earth to do.