Now, it appears Ishii might have re-considered his deal with FEG. In a recent interview with the media following UFC 94, UFC president Dana White confirmed that while he had indeed signed Ishii to a deal, he was unsure if the Japanese star would fulfill it.
“The thing is this: the kid’s sitting on a lottery ticket right now,” said White. “He’s being offered millions of dollars in Japan. They want him. He has to make a decision whether he wants to take the lottery ticket or come over here and work his way up and try to become the best.”
“If he does it the right way with us, he’ll be a superstar in Japan. It’s a much better deal for him than going in and getting executed by guys who have been fighting for a long time…because they need to make a fight right now so they can survive. See, Dream—needs him. I don’t. I want him.”
So, the UFC has signed Satoshi Ishii to one of their infamous iron-clad contracts, yet if Ishii changes his mind and decides he’d rather fight for FEG in Japan, he’s free to go? Nothing about that sounds right.
Is Dana mellowing out?
Well, I doubt it, but there must be some reasonable explanation why he’s willing to let such a highly sought after prospect as Ishii go free if he wants. As Fightlinker pointed out, maybe they don’t want to damage their perception in Japan any further by getting into a legal battle with their hometown hero.
Who knows, but whatever it is, something tells me there’s more to this story than Dana’s letting on.