Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. Two names that are the focal point of the entire 2012 Olympic Games in London. Whether it’s on NBC or social media, the focus of fans is on the two American swimming competitors. But have you ever heard of names such as Kayla Harrison or Teddy Riner?
Your answer is more than likely no. But these are two of the many judo practitioners who claimed gold during this year’s Games. In this feature, The MMA Corner will go inside this year’s Olympic combat sports, highlighting standout performances in judo, boxing, wrestling and taekwondo.
When you think of U.S. judo competitors who have competed in the Olympics, the obvious name that comes to mind is Ronda Rousey. However, the current Strikeforce women’s titleholder only captured the bronze, whereas Kayla Harrison earned the prestigious gold medal—a first in U.S. judo history.
Harrison, a friend of Rousey, took on Gemma Gibbons in her backyard of Great Britain, but had fans cheering her name after dominating her opponent from the start. The No. 4-ranked judo female in the world was filled with emotion after the win, saying, “This is my purpose.”
With a friendship with Rousey and a gold medal around her neck, the only direction for Harrison is up. Don’t be surprised to see her back on top in 2016, unless she follows Rousey’s path into the world of MMA.
At a massive 6-foot-8 and 300 pounds, Teddy Riner is a physical specimen. The native of France may not have gotten the spotlight like Harrison did, but Riner put on an impressive performance against Russia’s Alexander Mikhaylin to stand at the top of the podium.
What’s scary is that this man is only 23 years old. Riner has loads of potential to add to his medal collection, which also includes a bronze from the 2008 Games in Beijing. The sky is the limit for this athlete, so keep your eyes open for Riner once the Summer Olympics head to Brazil in four years.
With all the buzz surrounding Harrison winning gold, people are forgetting what Marti Malloy accomplished.
It may not have been the top prize, but the American Malloy claimed the bronze medal in her weight class of 125 pounds, defeating Giulia Quintavalle.
The San Jose, Calif., native did something that only MMA competitor Rousey—and now Harrison—has done, which is win a medal in the Olympics. At 125 pounds, it’s quite possible that you could see Malloy in a MMA ring in the future, but that is solely if she wants to go that route. Nevertheless, she’ll be looking to surpass bronze in four years.
No, this has nothing to do with Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley. But it is another case of boxing refereeing and judging robbing a fighter.
The match-up was Magomed Abdulhamidov vs. Satoshi Shimizu. Shimizu dominated the contest by knocking down his opponent a total of six times in a round. After the fight went to the judges’ scorecards, Abdulhamidov picked up the win with a score of 22-17.
This fight led to boxing referee Ishanguly Meretnyyazov being expelled for failing to stop the bout after six straight knockdowns.
Abdulhamidov, according to reports, has a bad history of controversy, but the country denies the rumors. This bout’s ruling has thus been overturned after an appeal from the Japanese.
Britain is on a tear when it comes to boxing, as welterweight Freddie Evans scored yet another win on Friday by defeating Egidijus Kavaliauskas 11-7.
The host country is now 8-1 in boxing, as the competition moves into medal bouts next week.
Stay tuned with The MMA Corner, as we will break down the top performances of the remaining stages of competition at the conclusion of the 2012 Summer Olympics next weekend.