JudoInside – News – Natalia Kuziutina joins MMA

Russia’s Natalia Kuziutina was one of the top fighters in the U52kg category. She has an Olympic bronze medal, a world silver medal (plus three bronzes), four European gold medals and seven IJF World Tour titles. Her recent posting on Instagram Kuziutina indicates she is joining MMA and living in the United States since end of last year.

Currently, Russian judokas are not competing in international judo tournaments due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. This could also be a decisive factor for the 33-year old top fighter who was one of the few Russian women who achieved to win an Olympic medal.

Being 33 years old, perhaps felt it was time to move on from judo without chances for international events for the moment and perhaps longer term. Urantsetseg Munkhbat, a former World Champion from Mongolia, recently retired at 32 to move onto MMA. In fact all athletes that she fought most have all retired previously like Tarangul, Kraeh, Chitu, Hashimoto, Munkhbaatar, Nakamura, Kelmendi, Miranda and Gomez, whom she all fought at least five times.

Money could also be an attractive factor as there is certainly more money in MMA than in judo. Both Ronda Rousey and Kayla Harrison from the USA have managed to achieve fame and wealth in MMA, in particular in UFC and PFL. Kuziutina’s exclusive representative is First Round Management. MMA and Judo don’t deal well, so it looks it’s a farewell to judo for Kuziutina who took four medals at World Championships including a silver medal in 2019 in Tokyo, but couldn’t impress at the Olympic Games last year in the same Budokan.

She is a four time European Champion in 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2018 and collected 8 European medals in total, all in the U52kg division. She’s won 15 World Cup titles which included two victories at the IJF World Judo Masters. At the age of 20 she won the Grand Slam in Paris. Outside judo she became famous by throwing Vladimir Putin at a training session in Sochi.