The UFC will head to Melbourne, Australia, next month for UFC 234, and another fight had been added to a card headlined by a middleweight title fight.
Teruto Ishihara kicked off 2019 by confirming the fight via Twitter, on New Year’s Day. In the announcement, Ishihara revealed both his opponent and the event, which is scheduled to take place on February 10.
— Teruto Yashabou Ishihara (@teruto_ko) January 1, 2019
This won’t be an easy matchup for Ishihara, however. His opponent is Kyung Ho Kang, who has a better record in his last four with only one loss in that span. Kang fought two times in 2018 and won half of those fights, defeating Guido Cannetti in January but losing to Ricardo Ramos in August. However, it’s important to note that Kang’s two fights before that were both in 2014, the long break due to Kang’s military service.
Ishihara also had two fights in 2018 but lost both of them, to Jose Alberto Quinonez and then to Petr Yan. Before that stretch, Ishihara had also lost two of his last three after starting off his UFC career with two wins and a draw. Despite the poor results, it looks like the UFC values Ishihara as an option for events in the Asia and Oceania regions. His last three fights, after all, have been in Singapore, Perth, and Saitama.
While Ishihara was knocked out in the first round in his last outing, there’s not much shame to be had in losing to Petr Yan, who only has one loss overall and is undefeated in the UFC. A loss at UFC 234, however, would almost certainly put his UFC future in jeopardy. The promotion has cut fighters with better records than Ishihara, and featherweight isn’t a division desperate for talent. On the other hand, it’s a deep division where fighters are more replaceable than they would be at, say, light heavyweight.
It looks like Ishihara has a lot more on the line than Kang here, as Kang has more wins in his last three or four fights and would only be on a two-fight losing streak. But desperation can be a good motivator, and featherweight is known as one of the more exciting weight classes, so it shouldn’t be surprising if this fight produces fireworks.