The Curious Case of Judo in MMA

Wrestling, Muay Thai, BJJ, Karate and even Sambo have them, which begs the question: “Why doesn’t Judo?” 

In question is the absence of world-class Judo and Judoka from the list of Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC) and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) title holders over the years.  The situation becomes even more curious when one considers the effectiveness of Judo techniques in Mixed Martial Arts events.

But  in order to compete and win you have to show up.  And to date, world-class Judoka have mostly been absent from both UFC and MMA events.  Perhaps neither holds interest for these world class athletes.

Or is it a case of the Judo community holding itself to a higher standard, preferring to not be associated with what some see as a modified version of ‘Pro Wrestling’, albeit with out pre-determined outcomes.  Historically, Japanese Judo Players that have participated in Mixed Martial Arts and Wrestling events, either in or outside of Japan, were often shunned from the Judo Community, with ranks/dans frozen for life followed by permanent expulsion.

Perhaps Judo – a softer and kinder version of Japanese Combat Jiu Jitsu less strikes and lethal joint locks – doesn’t lend itself to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).  Maybe modern Judo is a true Olympic sport and has no place in professional fighting.

That said, Judo techniques are frequently used by top level UFC and MMA stylists including takedowns, throws, arm locks and chokes. In fact, The Kimura arm lock has been known in Judo as udi garami for over 125 years, along with The Triangle Choke (Sankaku Jime) and the most common arm lock in MMA; long known as Juji Gatame in Judo.

Despite the preamble, Judo could and should hold a prominent place among the UFC and MMA’s elite.  Despite weak representation to date, the few Judoka that have ventured into MMA have tasted success.

Case in point: Hedihiko Yoshida – 1992 Olympic Judo Gold Medalist – has a number of MMA wins to his credit against notable opponents including Don Frye, Mark Hunt, Maurice Smith, Tank Abbott and Royce Gracie.

Karo Parysian – considered the best yet at adapting Judo to No-Gi MMA has wins over notable mixed martial artist’s Ryo Chonan, Josh Burkman, Drew Fickett, Matt Serra, Chris Lytle, Nick Diaz, Shonie Carter, Scott Davis and more.

But the latest Judoka to enter the scene may have the best chance yet at raising Judo’s profile as an MMA contender.  The Judoka in question is Satoshi Ishii – 2008 Olympic 100kg Gold Medalist.

With a solid Judo pedigree and training partners like Lyoto Machido & Fedor Emelianenko,  Ishii should have a leg up transitioning from Judo to MMA. 

If Ishii can put together a decent striking game and defense, he should be a force to be reckoned with, perhaps giving Judo some much needed MMA cred and its rightful place among MMAs elite.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) – Toronto, Acton, Ajax, Aurora, Barrie, Belleville, Bolton, Bowmanville, Bradford, Brampton, Brantford, Brockville, Burlington, Cambridge, Chatham, Cornwall, Elliot Lake, Etobicoke, Georgetown, Guelph, Halton, Hamilton, Kanata, Kingston, Kitchener, Lindsay, Leamington, Listowel, London, Markham, Midland, Milton, Mississauga,  Newmarket, Niagara Falls, North Bay, North York, Oakville, Orangeville, Orillia, Oshawa, Ottawa, Owen Sound, Peel Region, Peterborough, Pickering, Richmond Hill, Sarnia, Scarborough, Sault Ste. Marie, St. Thomas, St. Catharines, Stratford, Sudbury, Thornhill, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Toronto, Trenton, Vaughan, Waterloo, Welland, Windsor, Woodbridge, Woodstock, York, York Region Ontario Canada.

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