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Top 5 Judo Fighters in MMA
By Robert Rousseau

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June 27, 2008: Keep this in mind: The following is a list of upper echelon MMA fighters that are also so happen to be upper echelon judo practitioners. This is not a list of the best judo fighters that just so happen to have fought in MMA, nor is it a list of outstanding MMA fighters that have some judo skills. To make this list a fighter has to be considered an upper echelon judo and MMA fighter right now.

In case you were wondering. . .

So let's get to it as only Submit To MMA can.

5. Kazuhiro Nakamura: Nakamura is an interesting judo fighter in that he really hasn't played in on the national judo scene. That said, he's learned the sport from gold medallist Hidehiko Yoshida and has utilized judo's teachings very effectively on his way to an 11-8 MMA record.

Though Nakamura's MMA career has recently taken a turn for the worst with consecutive losses to Mauricio Rua, Lyoto Machida, and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, he continues to be a threat to use his judo skills in MMA fights very effectively.

4. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou: Sokoudjou was the 2001 U.S. Open Judo Champion. In other words, he's an outstanding judo practitioner. What's more, he took the MMA world by storm with consecutive knockout wins over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona to gain notice.

Interestingly, Sokoudjou recently defeated another fighter on this list ( Kazuhiro Nakamura ). Though he hasn't shown much judo yet during his MMA career, you've got to think it's coming.

By the way, Sokoudjou's overall MMA record is currently 5-2.

3. Yoshihiro Akiyama: Akiyama won the 2002 Asian Games and made the semifinals of the 2003 world championship in judo. Even if there was some controversy regarding a slick uniform in that regard, the bottom line is that the guy has some sick judo skills.

As an MMA fighter Akiyama has also been excellent. First, he holds an overall MMA record of 10-1. Second, he's beaten upper level fighters like Denis Kang and Melvin Manhoef and regularly takes opponents down in strong judo fashion.

2. Hidehiko Yoshida: Yoshida has only a reasonable overall MMA record of 8-6-1. But when you consider the fact that he's really a 205 pounder that has fought and lost against heavyweights the likes of Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, James Thompson, Josh Barnett, and Rulon Gardner the pattern becomes clear.

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Yoshida is one tough hombre that never backs down from a fight. Further, he has utilized some of those rarely seen judo skills to submit all eight of the opponents he's come out the victor against.

Did you see him throw Wanderlei Silva during those two epic matches he had against him?

Pretty stellar.

The bottom line is that Yoshida is another gi wearing judoka that can throw you in a heartbeat. He also so happens to be a gold- medallist judoka.

In other words, he's as good at judo as they get.

1. Karo Parisyan: Parisyan's overall MMA record of 18-5 tells part of the story on him. Victories over Josh Burkman, Drew Fickett, Ryo Chonan, Matt Serra, Nick Diaz, Chris Lytle, and Shonie Carter say a lot of the rest.

But if you really want to see judo throws and takedowns in MMA, this is the guy to watch.

The reason why Parisyan ranks number one is for two reasons. First, he has the most highlight reel up, up, and away throws of anyone on this list in MMA matches. Second, Parisyan is a rare judo practitioner in that he does his fighting without a gi in the UFC.

A gi helps a judo fighter by giving them a better grip to set things up. Thus, his ability to do everything he does without one serves as reinforcement for the notion that he's the best judo fighter in MMA.

By the way, Parisyan took home six Junior National belts in judo and competed in the 2004 Olympic Judo trials, so the judo pedigree is certainly there.

There's the list, people. Thanks for reading and have at it.





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