September 22, 2010

by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com (Reporting by Lee Whitehead) Olympic Gold Medalist Satoshi Ishii, who was once a hot prospect on the UFC’s radar, was slotted in to a bout against Ikuhisa Minowa at Dream 16, kicking British fighter James Thompson to the curb.

Dream announced the Sept. 25 bout at a last-minute press conference on Wednesday.

Ishii, who won his a gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, has just two bouts on his professional record. He lost his MMA debut to fellow Olympic Gold Medal Judoka Hidehiko Yoshida in late 2009 before getting his first win on a non-descript event in New Zealand earlier this year.

Minowa by contract has a professional record of 46-30-8, facing some of the biggest names, and literally, biggest fighters in mixed martial arts. Besides fighting the likes of Kazushi Sakuraba, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, and Ricardo Almeida, the 195-pound Minowa has defeated gargantuan fighters such as Hong Man Choi, Bob Sapp, and Eric “Butterbean” Esch.

Thompson, another rather large fighter, had originally been slotted in to face Minowa, but was apparently the bout wasn’t appealing enough to Dream’s TV network in Japan.

Thompson’s camp told MMAWeekly.com that their fighter learned of the change upon landing in Japan, following travel time of roughly 24 hours. They were told that Dream officials were still searching for a suitable opponent, but weren’t confident that there was enough time for that to happen.

Dream did promise Thompson that they would cover his fight purse whether or not a suitable replacement could be found.