A year ago, the much hyped Satoshi Ishii made a dissapointing MMA debut, failing to impress at Dynamite!! 2009. Tonight, the decorated Olympian showed off his vast improvement in the last year, defeating Jerome Le Banner in a very good fight.
For much of the fight, Ishii was able to outwrestle and control the stand-up fighter Le Banner. But JLB is a far more skilled MMA combatant than many other kickboxers, and was frequently able to reverse Ishii and take advantage. In the 3rd round, Ishii took clear control of the fight, locking on a tight kimura that looked to end it. JLB gutted it out and miraculously survived, but the strong sub attempt made it clear who had won.
Ishii took the justified unanimous decision, and interestingly, the result was booed. I think that stems more from Japanese loyalty to JLB than displeasure with the decision, but it's pretty shocking to see a Japanese sports hero booed like that in Japan. It was a good reminder that, although Ishii has improved, he definitely has not caught fire with the Japanese crowd as many hoped he would.