Mixed Martial Arts is supposed to be a diverse combination of multiple types of martial arts. Most people think BJJ and MMA, and that’s it. Often, they forget Muay Thai, wrestling, kickboxing, Tae Kwon Do, Karate and Judo. In this article, we are focusing on Judo and the best judokas who have fought in professional MMA. 

Judo is one of the oldest modern forms of martial arts. People often like to compare BJJ vs Judo. In truth, Judo is no less effective than the other martial arts. However, Judo does present an interesting challenge when it comes to MMA. Traditionally fought donned in a gi, it’s not always easy to perform Judo carries on someone who isn’t wearing a gi. It happens, though, and when it does, it’s usually pretty epic. 

Here are some MMA fighters who started out in Judo and found a way to make it work in the Octagon:

Ronda Rousey 

Rousey is perhaps the most well-known judoka who eventually became a UFC champion. “Rowdy” Rousey was the first American woman to ever acquire a medal in Judo at the Summer Olympics in 2008. For most athletes, that would be a lifetime accomplishment and the thing you’d be most known for. For Ronda Rousey, it was just the beginning. She would go on to be the first UFC women’s champion. She would defend the title six times until Holly Holm defeated her in 2015. 

Rick Hawn 

Rick “Genghis” Hawn was an American judoka who competed in the summer Olympics in Athens in 2004. After he didn’t qualify for the 2008 Olympics, he pivoted toward an MMA career. Rick Hawn didn’t go to the UFC, however, and he decided to take on Bellator. Rick Hawn would go on to win titles at Bellator at lightweight and welterweight over a six-year career. 

Yoshihiro Akiyama

Yoshihiro Akiyama is a Japanese judoka and former UFC fighter. Yoshihiro’s Judo career successes came in the early 2000s, when he won the 2001 Asia championships. He would go on to fight as a Mixed Martial Artist for the next several years, eventually finding his way to the UFC in 2009. While his UFC career wasn’t stellar in terms of wins and losses (1-4), he made waves with all the Judo throws he executed in his time there. 

Karo Parisyan

Karo Parisyan is an Armenian Mixed Martial Artist and perhaps the first fighter to represent Judo in the UFC. Karo was on the path to the 2004 Olympics for Judo, but the UFC called at the same time. He had moderate success in the UFC, but never won any championships. He would fight for several years before eventually finding his way to other promotions. 

Hector Lombard 

Hector Lombard is a Cuban-Australian judoka and Mixed Martial Artist. As a judoka, Hector won several medals at the national level in Cuba and Australia. In 2012, he would join the UFC and fight several times. While he didn’t have the greatest record, he would be known for his fantastic takedowns and throws in the Octagon.

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