Olympic Champion Wrestler With Great MMA Potential: Russia’s Khadzhimurat Gatsalov

Istanbul2011WorldFreestyleWrestling96kg Tigiev Gatsalov (11)

Accolades: Olympic Gold Medalist; Multi-Time World Champion. He won the gold medal in the freestyle 96 kg class in the 2004 Summer Olympics. He won five world medals in the 96 kg class at the FILA Wrestling World Championships. In 2013, he moved up to the 120 kg class and won a gold medal at the FILA Wrestling World Championships. He started his senior level competitive career at 84 kg in 2002 before moving up to 96 kg and 120 kg.

Potential Weight Class: Heavyweight/ Light Heavyweight/ Middleweight

Khadzhimurat Gatsalov has been one of the best freestyle wrestlers in the world for the last decade.

In addition to taking a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the Russian owns five gold medals from the World Championship in two different weight classes (96 and 120 kg).

Sambo practitioners have recently taken the sport by storm, so why can’t a world-class wrestler like Gatsalov? His wrestling chops would be second-to-none, he is durable as hell, and he has the training regimen to make a run in the sport, especially in a heavyweight division lacking depth these days.

the 29 year old Russian has never competed in MMA before but was rumored to have been scouted by the UFC a few years ago. It is extraordinarily unlikely that the UFC would sign anyone, however gifted, to a contract with zero competitive MMA experience. For example, Karam Ibrahim Gaber, won gold for Egypt in Greco at the 2004 Summer Olympics, but lasted 67 seconds in his one and only MMA match vs. Kazuyuki Fujita, who tried but failed to make the Japanese Olympic wrestling team.

Gatsalov has competed against Strikeforce heavyweight Daniel Cormier at the 2004 Olympics, dominating Cormier winning the match 5-0 (see below). Let’s wait and see what this MMA prospect does in the next few months.