My Top 5 Judokas in MMA

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Let’s face
it, judo is huge and so is MMA.  Judo is
a high-intensity, epic sport that requires a full-life sacrifice to become the
best.  For this reason judokas are
becoming more and more prominent in the MMA scene.

I follow
judo and MMA as much as any avid fan. 
Like anyone else, I have a soft spot for those competitors whose
original style was my own – judo.  So
without further ado, here is MY list of 5 top judokas in MMA.


Let’s face
it, judo is huge and so is MMA.  Judo is
a high-intensity, epic sport that requires a full-life sacrifice to become the
best.  For this reason judokas are
becoming more and more prominent in the MMA scene.

I follow
judo and MMA as much as any avid fan. 
Like anyone else, I have a soft spot for those competitors whose
original style was my own – judo.  So
without further ado, here is MY list of 5 top judokas in MMA.

Shinya Aoki –
Japan
Though not a
top tier judo player, Aoki still holds a black belt from Japan and was very competitive
before transitioning into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA.  Old videos of him on Youtube show his tendency
for newaza over nage waza.  Aoki is one
of the most recognizable figures in Japanese MMA.  
With notable wins over Rob McCullough, Marcus
Aurelio, Vitor Ribeiro, and Eddie Alvarez, Aoki is no doubt one of the best in
the game.  Watching any of his fights
clearly shows his desire to take the fight to the ground.  And for good reason, once he gets there, he
typical wraps it up.


Hector
Lombard – Cuba
Hector
Lombard is a 4th dan in judo and 2000 Olympian for Cuba, one of the
toughest teams in the sport.  Without
question, Lombard is one of the most explosive and aggressive fighters in
MMA.  Now fighting in the UFC, I believe
he will quickly become one of the top contenders in his division.
Lombard fights
out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, FL which is where I once trained
before travelling abroad to teach English. 
A definite throwback to Mike Tyson, Lombard’s highlight videos are a
sight to behold.  Let’s just say he’s
better as a friend than a foe.

With Hector Lombard at American Top Team

Kim,
Dong-Hyun – South Korea
Kim,
Dong-Hyun is a former Yong In University judo player.  What does that mean?  It means he is one bad judo dude.  Yong In University is Korea’s official judo
and martial arts college and training site for the national team.  Without being too cliché, the “best of the
best” in Korea train at Yong In University. 
The training intensity he developed at Yong In have translated well into
the MMA world.  
Now one of the top
contenders in the UFC, Kim is the biggest name in MMA in South Korea.  What’s crazy is I sometimes train at his school – Busan
Team MAD
.  Some great talent coming up in
Busan.  Be prepared. 

Training at Team MAD MMA in South Korea


Fedor
Emelianenko – Russia
What’s in a
name?  I remember watching Fedor’s first
fights in Pride back in the day.  When I
found out he was a Russian judoka he immediately became my favorite
fighter.  Little did I know he would go
on to be the most recognizable fighter in the game and responsible for taking
MMA to new levels.  A former competitive
judoka from Russia, Fedor placed in several top tournaments in Russia.  What’s the big deal about Russia and
judo?  Obviously  Japan, France and South Korea don’t have the
answer to that question as Russia is arguably the most dominant country in the
sport today.  This not including Russia’s
“related” countries that many of us view as part of the empire in northern
Asia.  Russia dominated the 2012 Olympic
games in judo and shows year over year that they plan on bringing the pain to
the tatamis. 
Fedor is one
of their products.  With a very long and
brutal career, his days look numbered in MMA. 
If he ever finds himself in the ring again it will likely be as a coach
or promoter.  After suffering losses at
the tail end of his career, it was clear that the abuse from years of fighting
and the evolution of the sport have finally caught up with him.  It happens, but has no bearing on the fact
that this great judoka was once King of the cage for over a decade.
Ronda Rousey
– USA
What can I
say?  You can’t overlook this girl.  A Jimmy Pedro protégé, Ronda Rousey has made
us all watch MMA a little more.  A junior
World Champion and medalist at the World Championships and Olympic Games,
Rousey is the reason women are in the UFC today.  Her level of play, technical ground game (a
la Jimmy Pedro) and ferocity make her unstoppable at the moment.  She is the biggest name in women’s MMA since
the sport came about.  Not only is she
better looking than the ring girls, but she can turn them all into pretzels as
well!
A trash
talker and a pretty face, I hope she continues to put judo on the map and bring
much needed recognition to all-time great, Jimmy Pedro.
Rousey and “Judo” Gene Lebell
Oss.



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