Who Are the Top 10 Greatest Olympians in MMA History?

Greatest Olympians
Henry Cejudo of the US celebrates on the podium during the medal ceremony for the men's 55kg freestyle gold medal match at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 19, 2008. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP via Getty Images)

In honor of the Summer Olympics opening in Tokyo, it was time to do a look back and countdown the top 10 greatest Olympians in MMA history. MMA and the UFC have seen many great Olympians competing in the sport, but are the top 10 greatest? We’ll be counting down with a focus on Olympic and MMA accolades combined.

The Top 10 Greatest Olympians in MMA

10. Sara McMann

Olympic Accolades: Silver Medal in 2004
Sport: Freestyle Wrestling
MMA Accolades: UFC Title Contender

McMann
ORLANDO, FL – FEBRUARY 24: (R-L) Sara McMann and Marion Reneau trade punches in their women’s bantamweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Amway Center on February 24, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Former UFC top-ranked contender Sara McMann made a huge splash at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. She won a silver medal in 2004 in the women’s ≤63 kilograms category. And in the UFC she was a one-time title contender in 2014 facing fellow Olympian Ronda Rousey. With a silver medal, she is one of the greatest Olympians to compete in MMA.

9. Hidehiko Yoshida

Olympic Accolades: Gold Medal in 1992, finished 5th 1996, finished 9th in 2000
Sport: Judo
MMA Accolades: PRIDE FC Fighter

Hidehiko Yoshida
8 Oct 1999: Hidehiko Yoshida of Japan celebrates winning the -90 kg Men’s title during the 1999 Hyundai Judo World Championships held at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England. Mandatory Credit: John Gichigi /Allsport

Japanese-born Hidehiko Yoshida would earn himself and Japan a gold medal in Judo during the 1992 Barcelona Olympic games. After that, while he wouldn’t medal, he would still qualify and finished in 5th and 9th at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. He would then go on to fight in MMA with no fear. He competed in PRIDE FC and would fight anyone. He had fights against Don Frye, Wanderlei Silva, Royce Gracie, Mark Hunt, Rulon Gardner, Tank Abbot, Mirko Crop Cop, Josh Barnett and others.

8. Yoel Romero

Olympic Accolades: Silver Medal in 2000, finished 4th place in 2004
Sport: Freestyle Wrestling
MMA Accolades: UFC Title Contender

Romero
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – JUNE 09: (L-R) Yoel Romero of Cuba kicks Robert Whittaker of New Zealand in their middleweight fight during the UFC 225 event at the United Center on June 9, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The Soldier of God, Yoel Romero is best known in MMA for some of his highlight reel knockouts over top middleweight fighters such as Lyoto Machida, Chris Weidman, Tim Kennedy and Luke Rockhold. He would fight for the UFC middleweight title four times. But before competing in MMA Romero would be a top competitor representing Cuba twice in the Olympic games. He won a silver medal in the 2000 Olympics and would place in 4th place in 2004 in Freestyle Wrestling.

7. Randy Couture

Olympic Accolades: Team USA Alternate 1988, 1992, and 1996
Sport: Greco-Roman Wrestling
MMA Accolades: Two Division UFC Champion, UFC Tournament Champion

randy
LAS VEGAS, NV – SEPTEMBER 26: Randy Couture (R) punches Tito Ortiz during their light heavyweight championship bout at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on September 26, 2003 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The Natural, Randy Couture would go on to become a multi-time UFC champion across multiple weight classes. But before he earned UFC gold he would qualify for Team USA as an alternate in the Olympics in the years 1988, 1992, and 1996. He is a hall of fame competitor in wrestling and the UFC, a great qualifier for one of the greatest Olympians in MMA. In 2007 Couture would make the record for the oldest fighter to be a UFC champion history at 45 years old.

6. Dan Henderson

Olympic Accolades: Finished 12th in 1996, and 10th in 1992
Sport: Greco-Roman Wrestling
MMA Accolades: Two Division PRIDE FC Champion, PRIDE FC Grand Prix Champion, Strikeforce Champion, UFC Tournament Champion

hendo
INGLEWOOD, CA – JUNE 04: Dan Henderson celebrates after his knockout win in the second round against Hector Lombard in their middleweight bout during the UFC 199 event at The Forum on June 4, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The UFC Hall of Fame fighter, Dan Henderson makes the list of greatest Olympians in MMA based on his impressive accomplishments over decades in these sports. A Greco-Roman style wrestler, he competed on team USA at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, finishing 10th, and at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics where he finished 12th. But his career would continue through the years, winning a UFC Tournament title in 1998, winning the PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix in 2005, becoming a two-division PRIDE champion in 2007, and became a Strikeforce light heavyweight champion in 2011. He rounded out his career with an unsuccessful title bout against then champion, Michael Bisping in Manchester.

5. Mark Coleman

Olympic Accolades: Finished 7th in 1992
Sport: Freestyle Wrestling
MMA Accolades: PRIDE FC Grand Prix Champion, UFC Tournament Champion x2, UFC Heavyweight Champion

coleman
LAS VEGAS – FEBRUARY 6: Randy Couture (red shorts) def. Mark Coleman (black shorts) – Submission (rear naked choke) – 1:09 round 2 during UFC 109 at Mandalay Bay Events Center on February 6, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

One of the grandfathers of MMA, Mark Coleman is absolutely one of the greatest Olympians to ever compete in the sport. Coleman would finish in 7th place at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic games. He would find much future success as the first UFC heavyweight champion, a two-time UFC tournament champion, and would win the 2000 PRIDE FC Heavyweight Grand Prix. An Innovator in Ground and Pound, Coleman has rightfully earned a spot in the UFC Hall of Fame.

4. Daniel Cormier

Olympic Accolades: Finished 4th in 2004, Team USA 2008
Sport: Freestyle Wrestling
MMA Accolades: Two Division UFC Champion, Strikeforce Grand Prix Champion

DC
LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 07: Daniel Cormier celebrates his victory over Stipe Miocic in their UFC heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 226 event inside T-Mobile Arena on July 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Daniel Cormier has had some of the most historic UFC championship bouts with rivals Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic. Cormier has held both the UFC light heavyweight and Heavyweight championship belts. Also, previous to that, he earned himself the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Championship. In the Olympics, Cormier entered Team USA with many national accolades as a national and Pan-Am champion. He would finish 4th at the 2004 Athens Olympics. In 2008 he was named team captain but was forced to withdraw due to weight cutting issues.

3. Ronda Rousey

Olympic Accolades: Bronze Medal in 2008
Sport: Judo
MMA Accolades: UFC Champion, Strikeforce champion

rousey 1
SAN JOSE, CA – JUNE 5: Ronda Rousey (in blue) competes with Grace Jividen in their 63 kg match during the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Judo on June 5, 2004 at the San Jose State University Event Center in San Jose, California. In winning Rousey made the US Olympic team. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Ronda Rousey is a trailblazer in every sport she enters, and definitely one of the greatest Olympians to compete in MMA. In the 2008 Olympic games she became the first American woman to win a medal in Judo, when she earned a bronze medal finish. She also became the first UFC female champion in history and defended that title six times. Rousey is a UFC hall of fame fighter is very deserving of that title.

2. Kayla Harrison

Olympic Accolades: Gold Medal in 2012, Gold Medal in 2016
Sport: Judo
MMA Accolades: 2019 PFL Champion

harrison
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, AUGUST 11: Defending Olympic champion, Kayla Harrison of the United States (white judogi) attacks former world champion, Audrey Tcheumeo of France in their u78kg final. Harrison eventually won the light-heavyweight gold medal by arm locking Tcheumeo into submission during day 6 of the 2016 Rio Olympic Judo on Thursday, August 11 at the Carioca Arenas 2, Barra, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by David Finch/Getty Images)

Winning back-to-back gold medal is an impressive feat. Kayla Harrison would earn herself two gold medals in Judo for team USA, at the 2012 & 2016 Olympic games. With two gold medals, she is one of the greatest Olympians to ever enter MMA. Add to this, her 2019 PFL Championship and the fact she’s undefeated in MMA at 10-0, she’s certainly one of the best.

1. Henry Cejudo

Olympic Accolades: Gold medal in 2008
Sport: Freestyle Wrestling
MMA Accolades: Two Division UFC Champion

cejudo
CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 08: Henry Cejudo celebrates his TKO victory over Marlon Moraes of Brazil in their bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 238 event at the United Center on June 8, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Henry Cejudo earned himself a place in Olympic history in 2008 at the Beijing games. At just age 21 Cejudo became the youngest American to earn a gold medal in wrestling, one of the greatest Olympians to then enter MMA. In the UFC, Cejudo would earn himself two gold straps. First he defeated the long time champion Demetrious Johnson, for the flyweight title at the second time of asking. Then would give a TKO to Marlon Moraes to earn himself the bantamweight championship. He would also defeat former champions T.J. Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz as his title defences. He would retire with two championship to his name in 2020.

This is top 10 list of the greatest Olympians to ever compete in MMA. The rankings were based on combining their Olympic and MMA titles. Some others who were left off the lsit but are worth mentioning: Hector Lombard, Rick Hawn, Ben Askren, Matt Lindland, Satoshi Ishii and Rulon Gardner.

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