Shibata Steps In to Face Ishii at K-1 MAX


Satoshi Ishii (left): Taro Irei | Sherdog.com

Facing his second last-minute opponent in as many months, Olympic judo gold medalist Satoshi Ishii will take on pro wrestler Katsuyori Shibata in an open-weight MMA bout at Monday’s 2010 K-1 World MAX Final in Tokyo.

Ishii’s original opponent, New Zealand-based kickboxer Antz Nansen, was forced from their fight due to an undisclosed injury discovered during pre-fight medicals. K-1 and Dream parent company Fighting and Entertainment Group announced the switch at a Sunday afternoon press conference.

“I’m kinda wondering why I’m here, too,” said Shibata. “But when you get the call to fight, you have to say, ‘yes, I want to do it.’”

The 30-year-old Kazushi Sakuraba pupil said that he’d been notified of the match less than 12 hours before the announcement, and had only woken up moments before the press conference. Nonetheless, Shibata reiterated that the decision to fight was not a difficult one.

“I would have negotiated more when they offered me the fight if I was your typical martial artist, but I’m a pro wrestler,” Shibata said. “We get in there and just fight.”

The accommodating Shibata even jokingly offered to fight Ishii under K-1 rules -- an offer which the judoka chuckled at, before promptly turning down.

As a pro wrestling fan, Ishii said that he was happy to be fighting Shibata. He offered little in the way of pre-fight bluster, but made assurances that he would give his best in the fight, despite the sudden change in opponent.

On Sept. 25, in just the third pro bout of his nascent MMA career, Ishii ground out a unanimous decision over 80-fight veteran Ikuhisa Minowa in a Dream 16 match finalized just three days before it took place. His professional record currently stands at 2-1.

Shibata will also be making a quick turnaround, having competed at Deep’s 50 Impact event on Oct. 24, where he was knocked out in round one by Deep light heavyweight champ Yoshiyuki Nakanishi. The loss extended Shibata’s current winless streak to three, stretching back to New Year’s Eve 2009, when he lost to another Olympic judoka, Hiroshi Izumi.

Tony Loiseleur contributed to this report

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