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At Submission Underground 19, promotion champion Mason Fowler will face off with judo Olympic gold medalist, and mixed martial arts veteran, Satoshi Ishii. A potential victory over Ishii may not reverberate in grappling circles like his wins over former SUG top dog Craig Jones. However, in Fowler’s mind, the booking seems like classic star-building strategy from SUG boss Chael Sonnen.
“If you’re talking to anyone that knows anything about jiu-jitsu, saying you beat an Olympic gold medalist in Judo [in submission grappling] doesn’t hold the same weight as saying that you beat an [Abu Dhabi Combat Club] gold medalist,” Fowler told Sherdog. “Because ADCC is considered the Olympics of jiu-jitsu. But to the everyday person, hearing Olympic gold medal has that ring to it. I feel that Chael is doing the same thing with me that he did with Craig. He was bringing in big names from different avenues. He was bringing in guys, all with different storylines, and kind of building Craig’s stardom. So I feel that now. I’m getting a little bit of the same treatment. They wanted to make sure I could rematch Craig and make sure [the first win] was legit. They were like, alright let’s give Vinny (Magalhaes] a chance. Vinny’s like one of the best guys that’s competed in SUG. And then now, I feel it’s like you passed those tests, let’s start building his star a little bit.”
In his conversation with Sherdog, Fowler also spoke on how his wins over Jones have improved his bargaining power when it comes to sponsors. Also, he explains what makes Ishii a difficult test, but also the sort of opponent he prefers on Dec. 20. He also touched on why an in-demand matchup with three-time ADCC champion Gordon Ryan has been difficult to make. Finally, he discusses his dream to one day face Jon Jones or Brock Lesnar in the SUG cage and if a return to MMA is in the cards.