Mon Jun 01 04:05pm EDT
Olympic gold-medal-winning judo player Satoshi Ishii surprised MMA fans when he announced that he signed with the Japanese promotion Sengoku, not the UFC, as he had originially indicated. Perhaps it was more important for him to fight in his native land than MMA fans thought.
It is a shame that we won't see Ishii fight in the U.S. His dynamic style of judo would have been an interesting addition to MMA, but there is another Olympian who recently announced his retirement who would be a fantastic fighter. That's Russia's three-time Olympic freestyle wrestling champion, Buvaisar Saitiev.
Saitiev is considered one of the best freestyle wrestlers of all time. His crisp, near-perfect technique gave his opponents fits. He is comfortable in the clinch, and his flexibility and strong hips would translate well into jiu-jitsu. It might be difficult for him to pick up striking, but it wouldn't be impossible.
Of course, Saitiev doesn't have much of an incentive to do anything but sit on his couch and relax. Wrestlers in Russia are not only extremely popular, but well-compensated. Saitiev is a known friend of Vladimir Putin and billionaire Iskander Makhmudov, so money and fame are no reason for him to go into fighting. He's 34 years old, and has been an elite wrestler for more than ten years. His body would probably not be up for MMA.
So, we'll just have to imagine about the dent that Saitiev, who won his golds at 74 kg (163 lbs.), would make in either the welterweight or lightweight divisions.
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