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Is judo a guarantee to be a top fighter in MMA
Is judo a guarantee to be a top fighter in MMA
2 Dec 2020 15:15
David Finch /

It’s hard to predict whether judoka are the ideal MMA fighters. Most fighters in Mixed Martial arts weren’t successful judoka. Some exceptions obviously with Kayla Harrison, Pawel Nastula, Satoshi Ishii and Hidehiko Yoshida, but not all were great MMA fighters. The best MMA fighters with a judo background seemed to be mediocre in their first sport judo.

Making money in judo is not so easy, as prizes have incrementally increased but still don’t match with other sports that are commercially stronger. The values of judo force the sport to stay away from MMA and the athletes that make the step to MMA are sort of done in judo. They were never very successful in judo and had to look for money to pay for their travel expenses and investments to train year over year and although judo brings us more in life than just the fighting spirit, some were persuaded by the rush of MMA, and obviously the increasing money, even Aussie Daniel Kelly gave it a try at his respectable age and succeeded quite well.

In the past athletes stepped over to other sports after they had finished their judo career. Ronda Rousey was the big name in judo that retired from judo at a young age. Rousey developed as a huge star in UFC. She took a lot of points by submission in events such as Submission Underground. Her chokes and armbars were huge submission weapon for Rousey and she showcased great victories and Rousey's results were published at Submission Underground news and results on Oddspedia. Rousey set the tone for female wrestling and cage fighting with her judo submission skills. She really gave up having an Olympic medal and in a time were marketing and TV dominate the image, Rousey benefit of her super skills and bad ass UFC legend. Kayla Harrison is hopefully about to make a successful career in the UFC. She was mentally done with judo.

In the past Olympic Champions like Nastula, Yoshida and later Ishii had their career and reached the top. A top MMA fighter such as Fedor Emelianenko was a mediocre judoka. Although he won medals at Judo World Cups in Moscow and Sofia, he flourished after he quit judo and stepped over to MMA.

The popularity of UFC increased with names like Rousey and Conor McGregor. Both have retired meanwhile and made huge profits from TV money and marketing deals. With Rousey also other former judoka stood up and tried to get a foot on the ground in Mixed Martial Arts such as Swiss athlete Stephany Egger. Even youngsters such as Dutch woman Senna van de Veerdonk started with judo but stepped over quickly to the commercial sport which is their profession, much better than investing in judo where the competition is so much tougher to get to Olympic level. MMA is in a way underdeveloped compared to judo from a sporting point of view. However the athletes are top fit and the commercial approach of MMA and UFC is much better than judo, more spectacular and better televised where super events can bring up huge amounts of TV income. We think that MMA is now developing rapidly to a more competitive sport, but it will never make it to the Olympic Games, the biggest podium on earth. More and more young athletes make the step to MMA as they failed to reach the highest podium but have that determination to stand out like Nick Hein, Jordy Bakkes, Hamza Hamry, Paulius Sinkevicius. 

Weather an Olympic medal will give you everlasting fame and income is the question, what is clear is that judo brings you much more in life with the values by Jigoro Kano, but judo can learn so much from MMA.