In combat sports there was a time that even if you were good enough to represent your country in the Olympics, prospects after the Olympics were bleak.
With the emergence of MMA, a new door was open for athletes to pursue a career after the Olympics. Several MMA fighters have competed on the world stage for their country. This group of MMA Olympians have been able to make successful transitions into the MMA world from their different combat sports backgrounds.
Below are a few that have done this, make sure to read the entire list over at Evolve MMA.
1) Ben “Funky” Askren
Reigning ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben “Funky” Askren from the Evolve Fight Team is one of the most dominant fighters in the world today, regardless of weight class. He sports an unblemished 16-0 professional record, making nearly every one of his contests look spectacularly easy.
Yet before Askren even stepped inside the mixed martial arts cage, he was a budding collegiate wrestling star. Askren wrestled for the University of Missouri and is a two-time NCAA champion. He was also a member of the United States Olympic team that went to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Askren’s amateur credentials would turn out to serve him well, however, as he has transitioned into MMA incredibly, bringing all the tricks of his “funky” style of wrestling with him. Today, he is one of the most feared competitors in ONE Championship.
2) “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey
Perhaps the most recognizable face in women’s MMA, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey has reached legendary status in the sport in just a short amount of time. Rousey put women’s MMA on the map, opening doors for women all over the world. Today, MMA is one of the most popular sports for women, and we have much more female stars now than ever before — stars like Holly Holm, UFC Strawweight World Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and ONE Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee.
But before the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion was an MMA superstar, Rousey was an Olympic judoka. She became the first American woman to earn an Olympic medal in judo when she captured bronze at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Rousey’s world-class judo skills, it would later turn out, would lead her to 12 straight wins as a professional before she eventually lost her title to Holly Holm in 2015.
3) Henry Cejudo
30-year-old Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo is a flyweight standout from Phoenix, Arizona, competing in the UFC. In April of 2016, he challenged reigning UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson for the title, falling by way of technical knockout in the first round. Despite the loss, however, Cejudo maintains a stellar 10-2 professional record and is one of the most talented fighters in the world today.
Also making a name for himself at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Cejudo defeated Japanese wrestler Tomohiro Matsunaga to become an Olympic gold medallist at the age of 21, the second youngest American wrestler to accomplish the feat.