In recent months reports had circulated through the Japanese media that 2008 Olympic judo gold medalist Satoshi Ishii had abandoned hopes of trying to win a second gold in the 2012 Olympics in favor of pursuing a career in mixed martial arts.
After wavering whether he was going to leave Judo for MMA, Ishii finally made his decision to cross over and was heavily pursued by FEG’s DREAM promotion as well as World Victory Road’s Sengoku.
Based on his overwhelming popularity garnered through his impressive showing during the Beijing game, Ishii was viewed as the kind of superstar who could help Japan’s struggling MMA scene.
Reports would eventually surface that Ishii had agreed to sign with DREAM and make his MMA debut in 2009 following an appearance during FEG’s “Fields Dynamite!!” on December 31 in Saitama, Japan.
However, it appears that Ishii remains a free agent and has already stated that his desire is to make his MMA debut in the United States while competing for the UFC.
Now, according to a report by Nikkan Sports, UFC president Dana White has issued a response through the promotion’s Japanese PPV partner WOWOW in which he met Ishii’s comments with approval. Furthermore, the WOWOW statement attributed to White included a formal invitation for the standout Judoka to attend this week’s UFC 92 “Ultimate 2008” event in Las Vegas. Nikkan also is claiming that Ishii has accepted the invite and plans to be at the MGM Grand Garden Arena this Saturday.