On Monday, World Victory Road finally announced the MMA debut of Satoshi Ishii. The 2008 Olympic gold medalist will take on fellow gold medalist Hidehiko Yoshida. The bout will take place on Sengoku’s year-end show.
The match up between gold medalists will certainly be interesting to Japanese fans. Tokyo is currently in a bidding war with Chicago, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 games. Ishii vs. Yoshida will be the second match up between Olympic gold medalists in MMA. On New Year’s Eve 2004, Yoshida lost to American Greco-Roman gold medalist Rulon Gardner.
Questions persist about how good Ishii can actually be. Extensive research has shown that a total of nine Olympic gold medalists to compete in MMA. Their overall record is 29-21-1. Let us take a look at them.
Karam Ibrahim Gaber (0-1)
After becoming Egypt’s first Greco-Roman gold medalist since 1928, Karam Ibrahim Gaber gave MMA a try. On Dec. 31, 2004 Kazuyuki Fujita rudely welcomed Gaber. The knockout had a lasting effect. Gaber never fought MMA again, and in 2008 games he failed to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Kenny Monday (1-0)
Kenny Monday won his gold medal at the 1988 games in Seoul. He returned and took silver in 1992. Many consider Monday to be one of the best wrestlers in American history. After placing sixth at the 1996 games, Monday took an MMA bout with John Lewis in 1997. Monday stopped Lewis with punches in the second round. The victory is rather impressive considering at that point Lewis had fought to draws with Rumina Sato and Carlson Gracie Jr. However, Monday never returned to MMA.
Mark Schultz (1-1)
1984 Los Angeles
In addition to his 1984 gold medal, Mark Schultz is also a two-time world champion and three-time NCAA champion. At UFC 9 on May 17, 1996, he stepped in on short notice against Gary Goodridge. Surprisingly, Schultz won via cut stoppage. At the time Schultz was the wrestling coach at Brigham Young University, and the school did not want him to compete anymore. Schultz returned to MMA in 2003, at age 43, and was submitted by Leopoldo Montenegro.
Hidehiko Yoshida (16-7-1)
Hidehiko Yoshida is by far the most active Olympic gold medalist. Over the course of his career, he has defeated Tank Abbott, Don Frye and Mark Hunt. He will take on Satoshi Ishii later this year.
Makoto Takimoto (5-5)
Makoto Takimoto is very hard to read when it comes to MMA. Sometimes it seems like he is entirely not interested in fighting, but then he goes out an upsets Murilo Bustamante. Despite his even record, he is still a big draw in Japan.
Pawel Nastula (1-4)
Let us hope that Satoshi Ishii does not have to deal with the same match making as Pawel Nastula. The Polish judoka is 1-4, but three of his four losses have come against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Aleksander Emelianenko and Josh Barnett.
Kevin Jackson (4-2)
2008 Olympic freestyle wrestling coach is most remembered in MMA circles for getting armbared by Frank Shamrock. Jackson actually had a rather impressive MMA career, with wins over John Lober, Tony Frkklund and Sam Adkins.
Rulon Gardner (1-0)
Rulon Gardner became an instant celebrity in America after defeat Olympic legend Aleksandr Karelin. After a snow accident cost him a toe, Gardner returned in 2004 and won a bronze medal. Gardner took on fellow Olympic gold medalist Hidehiko Yoshida in his only MMA fight. The near 300-pound wrestler dominated the fight impressing many pundits. Due to his Christian, background Gardner never became comfortable punching men in the face and never fought MMA again.
Istvan Majoros (0-1)
Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto has not been able to win Olympic Gold and he got the opportunity to take out his anger on Istvan Majoros. K-1 brought the 2004 gold medalist in for their New Year’s Eve show, and he last only 3:46 against “Kid.”