This is usually when TV networks in Japan are eager to put on their best shows, as the viewers are usually flocking to their television screens. DREAM is looking to improve immensely on their relatively poor ratings thus far and they could really use the likes of a Fedor on their year end show. The rumors of opponents have been circulating for weeks now and one that is brought up most often is that of Olympic gold medalist in Judo, Satoshi Ishii of Japan. Although utilizing the fame of his recent performance at the Olympics in Beijing, it would be a huge mismatch for a new comer to mma. That said, NYE shows are not marketed to the harecore fans, but more to the casual fans, who watch to see big names in action, not necessarily competitive bouts.
Although the rumors have been rampent and the hopes of seeing Fedor in action again in Japan are high, it doesn't look likely to happen. One of the primary reasons for this pessimistic view is due to Fedor's contract with Affliction and specifically the timing of their 2nd event, which is to take place late January. Affliction is very concerned about Fedor suffering an injury at the event and would rather him sit out NYE and be fully ready for a bout with either Andrei Arlovski or Josh Barnett. They simply don't want to risk Fedor missing another bout, due to injury. They can ill afford to be without Fedor in a big title bout, when they are trying to rebound from a canceled/postponed event that was to take place next month in Las Vegas. Fedor recently had an interview with DREAM addressing whether or not he will fight on NYE and about potential opponent, Satoshi Ishii.
Here is the full interview by DREAM, translated by Suki (Suki MMA)...
DREAM: What was the main purpose of your current visit [to Japan]?It doesn't sound like he'll be fighting Ishii or anyone else for that matter on NYE, but he doesn't completely rule it out. A work around that might allow Fedor to take on Ishii and eliminate most of the risk of injury, would be to have Fedor and Ishii face off at DREAM under a submissions grappling match. The idea might be welcomed by DREAM, who had set up a grappling match between Mirko CroCop and Ralek Gracie at DREAM 4. That fight was canceled due to an injury to Mirko, but it shows that DREAM would be open to such an idea. Affliction might give the green light, considering there would be far less risk of Fedor injuring himself, considering his injuries are usually due to breaking his hands on strikes. In any event, we'll most likely be seeing Fedor in at least one event within the next few months and possibly two.
Fedor: I came to Japan to watch DREAM and to meet Satoshi Ishii, who is a Judo gold medalist from the Beijing Olympics.
DREAM: You couldn't see Ishii unfortunately...
Fedor: Unfortunately not, I had been excited to train with him. I'm looking forward to meeting him next time.
DREAM: Did you watch his performance at the Beijing Olympics?
Fedor: No, I was in the U.S. during the Olympics games. The U.S. network [NBC] televised a swimming race, instead of Judo.
DREAM: Did you know Ishii stated he wanted to fight you?
Fedor: Yes, I know. I think it's too early in his career to fight me. I'd be very happy to train with him, whenever he comes to Russia. I heard he said he has a desire to be the best fighter in the world. I think his ambitions are too unrealistic to attain now. He is young, so it's important for him to take his time to gain technique, knowledge and experience.
DREAM: You said you came here to watch DREAM. Have you watched DREAM before?
Fedor: I have only watched a fight of [Gegard] Mousasi's, because I often train with him. I have DVDs of previous events and I will watch all of them eventually.
DREAM: Tell me about your schedule.
Fedor: I'm always ready to fight. I'm going to participate in a Sambo tournament in November.
DREAM: Who are you fighting next in mma?
Fedor: I have been told my opponent will be either Andrei Arlovski or Josh Barnett, on the next Affliction event [in late January]. They are both former UFC champions and I'm sure they will be very strong opponents.
DREAM: Japanese fans are expecting to see you fight on NYE in Japan again.
Fedor: I want to fight in Japan again, however, I can't control everything. God knows what will happen. Whether I fight or not on NYE depends on negotiations between my manager and DREAM.
Our thanks to Suki (Suki MMA) for the initial translation of the interview from DREAM. For more coverage of Japanese mma, please visit http://sukimma.blogspot.com