Olympic Judoka Rick Hawn takes to the cage
When three-time U.S. judo champion Rick Hawn decided to take up mixed martial arts, it would be natural to make the comparisons to another judoka who has had success in the cage - Karo Parisyan.
Though the comparison would be fitting, Hawn not-so-respectfully disagrees.
“I wouldn’t want to compare myself to him, kind of just because I can’t stand the guy,” said Hawn. “I’ll be better than he was. He had a base with judo but he wasn’t as good. My judo is a little more advanced.”
Hawn beat Parisyan in Judo twice at the U.S Open eight years ago. Hawn also has a longer list of accomplishments,including a berth to the Olympics, compared to Parisyan - one of the first judokas to make a successful transition to MMA.
Having the same type of success in the cage though as the UFC veteran is something Hawn is striving for.
The 33-year-old made a successful MMA debut in 2009 by winning his first five professional fights. The Dracut resident currently has his plate full. Not only is he training full-time with Mark DellaGrotte in the Somerville-based gym Sityodtong, but is also working fulltime in loss prevention with a retailer.
As he steps in the ring Friday (7:30) at the Shriners Auditorium in Wilmington for World Championship Fighting, he does so with the hope that 2010 is the year where he can start making enough money to fully concentrate on the sport. After he headlines the show matched up against Tom Gallicchio, he will be taking his fight game to pay-per-view with Shine Fight Promotions.
Hawn just came to an agreement with Shine to make his debut against Brazilian Jiu-jitsu ace Braulio Estima on May 15.
“I haven’t seen much of him yet, I’m just focusing on my next fight,” Hawn said. “I know he’s great at grappling so that’s not where I’ll want to take the fight. It’s his first fight. I don’t believe his standing is going to be up at my level, so we’ll see. But you never know with MMA.”
And though he may be slated for a bigger stage after his bout this week, Hawn’s not looking past Gallicchio - and for good reason. The 23-year-old Gallicchio already has a load of experience, as evident with his 12-4 record.
“I’m not really getting excited yet ’til I whip this kid next week, and then I’ll think about it,” said Hawn. “This is definitely a step up in competition for me. My last opponent was a tough striker and (Gallicchio) has twice as much as much as striking as he does.”
From his pre-MMA days, Hawn knows what it’s like to face a challenge.
From 1999-2008, Hawn was one of the top judokas in the nation. He finished ninth in the 2004 Olympic Games and routinely placed in the top three in the national championships. The Eugene, Ore., native first came to Massachusetts in 2005 to work at Jimmy Pedro’s Judo Center in Wakefield.
It was in Massachusetts where he got his start in the art of mixed martial arts. He started training with DellaGrotte in the summer of 2008.
“He’s a high level judo practitioner. That’s Jimmy Pedro’s protege,” said DellaGrotte. “He’s been in the judo game for a long time and he’s done big things. Now he’s made the crossover and the transition to MMA. He’s been successful, he’s undefeated and that’s another guy to watch out for.”
Hawn said he’s currently trying to hone in on his striking. From practicing his standup with the likes of Patrick Cote, Marcus Davis, Stephan Bonnar, Jorge Gurgel and others, Hawn believes he’ll have even more of an edge when he gets in the cage with his background in judo.
“Getting in the clinch and stuff like that and on the ground, I have an advantage over someone who just wrestled in high school,” Hawn said. “Especially with the takedowns, I definitely used that in my earlier fights and caught some people by surprise.”
Taken From http://www.bostonherald.com/blogs/sports/inside_the_octagon/?p=39&srvc=home&position=recent