Photo by Sherdog - Don't give up on Ishii. His raw talent is for real.

The Japanese judoka who Michael “The Voice” Schiavello called “once the most sought after heavyweight in MMA” made his heavily anticipated professional debut last night in Japan. Satoshi Ishii, who won a gold medal in judo at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, took on seasoned PRIDE and Sengoku veteran Hidehiko Yoshida in the co-main event at “FieLDS Dynamite!! 2009”.

It looked as though it would  be a short night for Ishii as the fight started. In the first round, he looked tentative, nervous, and awkward, while Yoshida appeared to be completely at home in the ring. Yoshida was landing punch after punch and even dropped Ishii with a big overhand right in the opening frame. Ishii recovered and survived the round, but things were looking dim for the national hero.

Ishii settled down and began to find his rhythm in round two. He landed more strikes and worked well in the clinch with knees and dirty boxing. Yoshida appeared to be slowing down, and took a hard knee to the groin that cracked his protective cup. Time out was called and Yoshida was given time to recover. Ishii was penalized with a red card and had a point deducted.

By the third round, Ishii had found his groove and was landing more and more strikes. He seemed to be the more active and aggressive fighter as the fading Yoshida became less effective. The veteran even tried to shoot in at one point for the first time in the bout after having felt enough of Ishii’s power.

The commentators thought Ishii won the second and third rounds, and Yoshida won the first, but due to the point deduction in the second round, it would make that round, and the fight, a tie. However, the judges saw it differently and awarded the fight via unanimous decision to Yoshida.

Obviously, Ishii is a great athlete and very talented. It is just going to take some time for him to adjust to MMA. To take on a veteran like Yoshida in a person’s very first MMA fight is no easy feat by any stretch of the imagination.

All in all, Ishii looked pretty good. He looked nervous and out of place in the first round, but once he got comfortable, he looked pretty decent. He showed that he is very quick for a heavyweight, and from all appearances he is very strong and hits like a tank. It may not have been a blockbuster start to his pro MMA career, but it was by no means a failure either.

A good comparison is Brock Lesnar’s first bout with Frank Mir. Lesnar showed great potential in the fight but the veteran was able to pull it off in the end. Lesnar then went on to progress and become the heavyweight champion. It is not unthinkable the same type of situation could happen with Ishii. He does have that same type of raw natural strength, speed, and ability. This is only the beginning for the 23-year-old judoka.

Here are the full results for “FieLDS Dynamite!! 2009”.

By: Jack Bratcher

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