Saturday, May 12, 2012

Qualifying for the Olympics Ought to Equal Two Fights in MMA

I recently saw on twitter that Ivo Dos Santos was told he couldn't audition for the ultimate fighter, Australia against the UK because he only had one professional fight. Those are the rules, right? You are supposed to have three professional fights and with a winning record, it says right on the press release.

Except ... that Dos Santos happens to have qualified for the Olympics in judo, and he did it the hard way. There are two ways to qualify for the Olympics which you would know, if you read my blog post "My Dream is to Become a Zebra" . Well, actually, there are three ways but one is to be the person representing the host country, which only works if you're British. The hardest way is to be in the top 22 men in the world. The easier way is to be selected under a quota of so many per continental union.

So ... when I heard that Dos Santos wasn't even being allowed to try out for the ultimate fighter show, I thought I would look him up, and since my wonderful friend Jerry Hays keeps me updated on the latest judo news, I was able to see that Dos Santos is a pretty respectable #14 on the roster for having directly qualified for the Olympics. In short, he made it in with a fairly comfortable margin.

If you look at his site, it says he won medals in two world cups, made the finals at two European events and won the Australian national championships twice. Yes, I do know that Australia is not exactly the hot spot for judo in the world. I also know that his coaches , Daniel Kelly and Maria Pekli are pretty good judo players and she won an Olympic medal, so he comes from good stock.

He's about Ronda's age and I was going to ask her if she knew him or if she couldn't stand him for any reason (I don't know him from Adam - he could be the biggest man whore douche bag  in judo for all I know, or he could be the younger, male, Australian version of Mother Teresa). On second thought, though, it doesn't matter.

Fair is fair.  I do agree with what Rick Hawn said a while back, that many judo players don't make it in mixed martial arts because the average judo player, even who makes the national team, just doesn't train that hard and they aren't that tough, as a general rule.

However ... I would say if you qualified for the Olympics and cracked the top 20 in the world consistently, you aren't the average judo player, and for the love of God that ought to be enough to qualify you to try out for one day for a TV show.

This whole incident reminded me of when Ronda came back from her second Olympics and wanted to enter a local grappling tournament that offered a cash prize. The conversation went like this:


You have no experience. You can't just enter the open division. Let us talk to your coach.


Let me get my mom.


Your MOM? This is your coach? Your MOM?


I think you all are underestimating my daughter. Give me whatever waiver you need me to sign. Here, I'll sign it twice if you want me to.

The rest of the story .... She won but did not get the money because they said she did not have enough competitors in her division. And here is how that happened ... after she slammed and arm barred the first three, the next two people said, and I may be paraphrasing here,

Fuck that!

And pulled out of the division.

So, here is my point. Qualifying for the Olympics as one of the top 22 men in the world ought to count for two professional fights. Dos Santos already has one pro fight he won by submission in two minutes. (I'm not stalking him. I have the Internet.  I looked it up.)

Frankly, I'm rather intrigued by the fact that he's willing to show up and fight six weeks before the Olympics when most players are terrified of getting injured. If he has that much confidence in himself, then, if I was pulling in people, I'd want to take a look at him. Either he'll back it up or he'll get his ass kicked. Either way, it would be interesting to watch.


Anonymous said...

That's pretty disappointing. I do wish more Judoka would step up to the MMA plate, and it looks like that's what this guy was trying to do. Deservedly so, it sounds by his credentials.

R. Lightfoot said...

How much of Ronda's BJJ tourney experience do you think was political? Meaning, well meaning just that I guess. They weren't going to have a non bjj plaer come in and wipe the floor with them, like she did!

@pegson said...

Interesting. I would be surprised if he turns up to the house try outs, if they did not give him a look in.

I always wanted to know more about the period when Ronda did some grappling tournaments.

I wonder if she will ever go back to tournaments, seems like a good way to stay primed and to not let skills slip and to develop new skills. Especially with limited mma matches per year

Dr. AnnMaria said...

It was grappling not BJJ . I think they were just ignorant because they gave me a long argument about how dangerous it could be for her

joshgordonnz said...

Hi this is the first time I've come across your blog and I'll be checking in regularly. Ivo is a good mate of mine (I'm a judoka from New Zealand). And all I can say is that he should at least get a try out, I have seen the way the guy trains, he is dead serious about everything he does and if they just gave him a shot to try out I KNOW he could ruffle a few feathers!! hmmmm perhaps why they won't let him...

Peter said...

Thanks for this blog!!
your blog is very informative.
Martial Arts can be enjoyed by all age groups.
Martial Arts Sydney

Anonymous said...

I coatched a state judo team for 10years and competed and won at national level, I have followed Ivos path to the olympic qualification via his face book page, if he wants to compete, give him a chance, he has the attitude of a champion he will do what ever it takes to win.

Anonymous said...

The reason a lot of elite level Judo fighters don't switch to mma is because they are too busy training , travelling and having to work to support their dreams of making the olympics ( not because they are not tough enough or or don't train hard enough, I dare anybody to actually say that to the face of a National team member, of any country, who actively competes on the world circuit) ....if a judoka is lucky or has reached success early enough ( in the case of ronda and ivo ) at the end of their judo careers , if they are still in a condition ( ei not injured ,broke or mentally tired ) they might try their hand at a sport which one day might allow them to actually make some money. Ivo is an elite young judoka who is dedicated, tough and yes he should be given the opportunity to try out. Ps ... Daniel Kelly and Maria Pekli are not " pretty good " they are judo elite . Qualifing for multiple Olympics , winning bronze at an Olympics as well as countless other international and World Championships I think means they should be written about with the respect they deserve . Or maybe it just takes somebody reading this blog ,who actually knows about Judo , to realise that .

Anonymous said...

just to clarify i'm not implying that the writer doesn't know about Judo ...obviously, only that too many people are ignorant to the reality of high what high level judo players go through.

Anonymous said...

LOL @ "Fuck that!". That's what opponents think when facing the kids from WCJTC(formerly USJ*/USJ# WCJTC) at BJJ/Judo tournaments. Thank you for starting the center and taking the time to train those young kids.

Jeremy said...

Maybe I'm wrong here but it sounds like you're hedging your bets.

I wish you would get a tryout, but really, your last fight was in 2010. You could've had 3 fights by now.

Which means you made your choice to focus on Olympics over MMA, so this will just have to be another sacrifice.

That being said, fly out to the next ufc event. During Press conf they allow fans to ask q's and in the spotlight Dana is very gracious to fans. I'm sure he'd let you tryout if you asked in that venue.

Good luck with the olympic run, I'd imagine it'll boost your stock when you decide to fully commit to MMA.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

Anonymous -
Definitely, Daniel Kelly and Maria Pekli are good judo players. I did mention that Pekli won an Olympic medal. I saw both of them compete in the Olympics.

Not to be rude, but I won a few international medals myself, so when I saw that someone is a pretty good judo player, I don't think that shows a lack of respect for them. Quite the contrary.

I think you and I are in agreement that Dos Santos deserves a try out for The Ultimate Fighter. Unfortunately, neither of us has any say in the matter but maybe if enough people bring this up he will get his shot. MMA is a business after all, and if enough people want to see something it will eventually happen.

As far as having the nerve to say that not every national team member is that tough or in that great shape, Rick Hawn was the first to say it and he was on the 2004 Olympic team. I agree with him. SOME people are and by his track record I think Dos Santos is one of them.

Being on your national team means that you are best in your country. In some countries, say France or Japan, that means a lot. In other countries it means you won first, second or third in a division of seven people AND you had enough money to travel.

jcp said...

Very interesting. I believe in the past people have made it on the show with NO pro fights. I guess the rules have changed.
Regarding why a lot of Judo players don't make it in MMA: I wonder how much of a factor Sport judo vs martial judo has in the equation. It seems to me that Ronda trains hard for the throw and then immediately moves into ground control and submissions. This style apparently translates very well into MMA :). Judo players who just train for Ippon and defend on the ground, or players who's body position through a throw lead to a higher probably of ippon but result in poor ground control position may not fair as well in MMA. They are, after all, very different sports. I'm very curious about your thoughts on this.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

A lot of judo players play just to win on a decision. A ridiculous number of matches are won on penalties for everything from holding too long on one side of the uniform, to not attacking. There is nothing wrong with winning that way, it is not cheating. However, people who play like that - and there are many - do not have a style that translates well to MMA.