Satoshi Ishii’s promotional debut at PFL 3 was tougher than expected, with four-fight veteran Zeke Tuinei-Wily taking him to a split decision.
Uniondale, NY – Satoshi Ishii, an Olympic gold medalist in judo, made his promotional debut at PFL 3 against short-notice opponent Zeke Tuinei-Wily. The Hawaiian proved to be tough, and even won on one judge’s scorecard.
“I want to take my hat off to my opponent. He’s very strong and his punches were heavy. I was surprised. Overall, I took him down a couple times. I thought my striking was very strong.”
Ishii had higher expectations of himself coming into this fight, and on top of that, Tuinei-Wily exceeded expectations.
“I thought I could take him down easier, but he was really strong and he knew how to get up from bottom. He was very difficult to control, very difficult to takedown, and his punches were very heavy.”
The Japanese veteran was supposed to battle 2018 heavyweight champion Philipe Lins, but the Brazilian pulled out with an injury.
“My training camp was for six weeks and very hard. And my opponent, Philipe [Lins], pulled out and I was a little upset. But my new opponent was very strong and tonight I became a better fighter.”
When it comes to who will make the playoffs, Ishii has two names in mind for the heavyweight bracket.
“It’s difficult to say. My opponent was very good, and I think he’ll be in the tournament. I think the Russian guy before me, Denis Goltsov, he will be in the tournament.”
This fight was more grueling than expected for Ishii, but he’ll have to be ready for his next fight in just one month.
“I am a born fighter and I can fight any time anywhere. But it is a tournament, so I have to make sure I don’t get injured. If you are injured, you cannot be in tournament. I can fight.”
Ishii represents Croatia, not his native Japan, when in the cage, and he explained why.
“I wanted to train with Mirko [Cro Cop] after his RIZIN Grand Prix. I went to train in Croatia and the Croatian people were very nice. I felt that I wanted to fight for Croatia.”