Super fights are always going to be talked about. Recently, with Ronda Rousey being absolutely dominant in MMA, people have wondered who could face her. More intriguing to some, is that she came from a pure Judo background before jumping into MMA, and as we all know, was a bronze medalist in Olympic Judo.
Rousey’s success inadvertently brought extra attention to another women’s Judoka, Kayla Harrison. Harrison was the first American (male or female) to win a gold medal in Olympic Judo (She won in 2012). Many have speculated about what her future goals are; but for now, she maintains that she will continue competing in Judo.
So the following is all purely hypothetical. The one woman whose name comes up over and over again when entertaining BJJ vs Judo super fights is Gabi Garcia. In the name of fun speculation, let’s break down what we think would happen if Harrison and Garcia competed in a submission grappling match such as Polaris or Metamoris.
- Height: 6’5″
- Weight: Unknown, but she claims the lowest she can drop to is 191lbs.
- Height: 5’8″
- Weight: 165
Gabi Garcia is not exactly well known for her takedown game, despite her size. In fact, Garcia is usually seen going for an arm-drag, snap-down (to plowing them over), or sprawling on top of them.
That said, Kayla will throw the ass of anyone who steps in front of her.
Not only does she throw and counter-throw well, she can combo throw like King from Tekken.
As you can see, she goes through 3-4 throws (depending on who you ask) in that short .gif. However, a weakness that many BJJ players would notice is that she gave up her back to achieve the takedown; a weakness that was at one time shared with Ronda Rousey, as seen in her first fight with Meisha Tate, and against Liz Carmouche.
As big and strong as Garcia is, I don’t see her scoring off of the feet. Harrison would toss her before she had a chance. Garcia’s takedown defense is not exactly up to snuff, as has been shown in the past, against the likes of Hillary Williams.
However, her ability to turn being taken down into a sweep or an opportunity to get back on top is also pretty excellent.
So if Garcia were to attempt a takedown battle with Harrison, I have no doubt that Harrison would easily get the throw. Garcia may be able to turn it into an immediate sweep, but with harrison’s own size and strength, I feel like Garcia might even struggle with that.
One thing Garcia has done a few times recently, that I think surprised many, is sitting guard right away. When competing against Mackenzie Dern last year, Garcia sat guard and waited for Dern to engage. Dern quickly attempted to run around her legs, but Garcia used the opportunity to sit up and perform a single-leg.
Garcia has also shown that she likes to use the closed guard, and half-guard in order to either stand up for a single, or to force her opponent into a turtle position and attack from there, as seen here:
It’s difficult to find video of Garcia fighting off of her back. She doesn’t have a need to play guard very often, but even while rolling with Marcelo Garcia, she showed she was more than capable of pulling off the sweep.
That said, it’s not as though Harrison has never seen nor passed a guard. She has even won world-level matches by passing guard and pinning an opponent.
With that in mind, I will argue that guard in BJJ vs guard in Judo is very different. Judo rules do not allow for more than a few split seconds of time on the mat. The rules call for big, flashy throws, so everything on the ground is rushed which does not allow for the same precision that BJJ does.
I believe that if Harrison were to take Garcia down, Garcia would be able to work from guard to get back on top. If Garcia were to sit guard immediately, she would even deny Harrison the takedown points (were it a points competition).
Once again, Judo does not often allow the time for ground work or submissions. Therefore, even were Harrison to train extra time in them, I don’t believe she would be able to edge out Garcia, who has been able to spend far more time perfecting them. However, Ronda Rousey has shown an ability to submit despite the handicap Judo places on submissions, and Kayla is no stranger to submission victories herself.
As stated at the beginning, the comparison is for a submission grappling match, with no points. With those rules, I wholeheartedly believe that Gabi Garcia would emerge victorious.
With that in mind, a Judo contest, and likely even a wrestling match, would definitely go the way of Kayla Harrison.
Both women are amazing in their respective sports. I have absolutely nothing but respect for both of them and wish them both the best in all of their future endeavors.