From Olympic Bronze To 4-Ounce Gloves | UFC FIGHT PASS

When an Olympian closes the door on their career it can leave them searching for their new identity. The luxury of being an actor, comedian or musician isn’t nearly the same as being the greatest athlete in the entire world at your sport, which leads to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

After closing out a career that included a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics, a handful of medals in the World Championships, five gold medals in the European Championships and dozens more, Kuziutina has found a seamless transition from her Olympic Judo career: the world of MMA.

She’s devoted to training and becoming the same caliber fighter she was as a judoka, but it’s hard for Kuziutina to compare the feeling of competing in the two sports.

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“It’s the same, but different,” Kuziutina laughed. “Judo is like sports. MMA, for me, is like a show. It’s like before when gladiators try to kill each other and the crowd shouts, ‘Kill him! Kill him!’ It’s the same. I go into the cage and the cage closes. Opponent kills me or I will kill. It’s a little different.”

At 34 years old, Kuziutina may not see the direct correlation between Judo and MMA, but her training environment and a thirst for improvement have given her a head start most three-fight veterans would kill for.

“I understand quickly, but every day I learn new information,” Kuziutina said. “Every day I train with different fighters. I train at American Top Team in Coconut Creek. Many fighters come with us and train with me. It’s very important to train with other fighters and learn new information.”

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While there doesn’t seem to be a set in stone Judo-first fighter once Ronda Rousey retired, Kuziutina believes that it’s a skillset that can’t be mastered as fast as striking and is more dangerous than BJJ. And now, she’ll be looking to make a big enough splash to catch the eyes of the UFC at Titan FC 82.

She made quick work of her last opponent, submitting her with an armbar in only 39 seconds. Can she replicate that performance on June 2?

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