There is no doubt that the exponential growth of mixed martial arts has turned many of its athletes into household names. Its popularity and competitiveness has attracted the most elite athletes from all over the world: wrestlers, judokas, Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champions. The list goes on.
Although these athletes are famous in their own right, their foray into mixed martial arts proves that they have taken their level of success to even greater heights. Today, Evolve Daily reveals the story of some of MMA’s best crossovers. Here they are:
1) Ronda Rousey
To say that “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey has made a successful transition from Judo to MMA is an understatement. At 27 years old, the name Rousey has become synonymous with the “armbar”. Thanks to her Olympic Judo background, Rousey manages to dominate every single one of her opponents using her throws and submission skills.
2) Dan Henderson
“Hendo” is quite the accomplished Greco-Roman wrestler, competing in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Apart from being an Olympic wrestler, he was the first mixed martial artist to achieve championship status in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions of PRIDE.
3) Ben Askren
A two-time NCAA Division I Wrestling Champion and four-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler, it is no surprise that Ben “Funky” Askren’s takedowns are a force to be reckoned with. Currently signed with ONE FC, Asia’s largest mixed martial arts organization, he holds the welterweight title and is currently undefeated.
4) Roger Gracie
Although being a 10-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion is a feat in itself, keeping his family’s legacy by starting a career in MMA was a choice Gracie made to push himself further. In his recent return to the Light Heavyweight division, Gracie defeated his opponent via TKO in the third round.
5) Randy Couture
A gold medalist at the Pan-American Games, Olympic wrestler Randy “The Natural” Couture is one of the most accomplished athletes to set foot inside the cage. As the first fighter to hold UFC title belts within two weight classes (heavyweight and light heavyweight), he has also been inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, among many other awards.
There is no question that for these athletes, the tenacity and work ethic that they developed over years of hard training translated to success in mixed martial arts. With the continued success of mixed martial arts, more exciting names will undoubtedly be added to the roster in the future.