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Strikeforce adds Olympic Judoka to light heavyweight division

One of the MMA community’s top trainers will bring his bag of techniques to the Strikeforce ring in the coming weeks, as the company recently announced the signing of multi-time National Judo Champion and 2004 Olympian Dr. Rhadi Ferguson with a promotional debut scheduled for January 7 at an upcoming Strikeforce Challengers event in Nashville.

The 35-year old Ferguson holds a PhD in Education and has used his knowledge, as well as competitive experience, to train a number of high-level athletes in and out of MMA in a variety of areas including strength and conditioning. As a professional fighter he’s gone 2-0 thus far with two TKOs, though the change from Olympic Judoka to Mixed Martial Artist hasn’t been as smooth a process as one might think.

“I don’t think MMA is ever a natural transition,” Ferguson said. “I did Judo, I did BJJ, and I’m a strength and conditioning coach and a judo coach for some top MMA fighters. After training these guys for a while the sport caught me a little bit. I’m 35, but I feel like I still have some stuff in the tank. I’m satisfied with my athletic career but I wouldn’t mind putting the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight title-belt on my mantel.”

“The thing about fighting is it makes me feel free,” Ferguson continued. “I think what I enjoy from MMA is the newness of it – it’s new to me and there’s so much to learn. When you become good at a sport like Judo you have core skills that you hone in on so much. You’re only focused on that. With MMA, there are so many things which you have to become proficient at. You don’t have to be good at everything but you’re proficiency has to be high to be a true Mixed Martial Artist.”

Ferguson’s opponent, Canadian prospect Ion Cherdivara, will also be making his Strikeforce debut at the January event. Though he may not have the Olympic credentials of Ferguson, Cherdivara certainly isn’t lacking any confidence in his abilities which have been refined as a former member of Moldova’s national wrestling team and impressive showings on the local scene.

“I’m only 1-0 because I’ve had a hard time finding fights in Montreal,” Cherdivara said. “No one wants to fight me. With Strikeforce I’ll finally be able to face some quality opponents who otherwise wouldn’t dare fight me. I’m looking to face the best light heavyweights Strikeforce has to offer.”

Joining the pair of debuting light heavyweights at Strikeforce Challengers 13, in co-headlining bouts, undefeated Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier will face Devin Cole in heavyweight action, while fellow rising star Tyron Woodley will also attempt to maintain his unblemished record when taking on Tarec Saffiedine. Additionally, workhorse Ovince St. Preux will go for his third win in Strikeforce since November 19 against striker Ron “Abongo” Humphrey.

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