Strikeforce on Monday announced that four-time U.S. national Judo champion and 2004 U.S. Judo Olympian Dr. Rhadi Ferguson will put his undefeated 2-0 MMA record on the line against up-and-coming, and fellow undefeated, light heavyweight Ion Cherdivara on the Strikeforce Challengers 13 fight card.
Strikeforce Challengers 13 takes place on Jan. 7 at Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn., and will air live on Showtime.
The only athlete to compete in the Olympic Games, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) World Championships, and the Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling World Championships, according to a Strikeforce press release, both of Ferguson’s victories come by way of TKO at light heavyweight.
A BJJ silver medalist, the 35-year-old Ferguson has successfully transitioned to MMA after a brilliant career in Judo and BJJ. A member of America Top Team (ATT) in Coconut Creek, Fla., the longtime martial arts competitor is also a well-respected trainer having worked with Bobby Lashley, Thiago Alves, and Brandon Vera, among others.
“I don’t think MMA is ever a natural transition,” Ferguson said. “I did Judo, I did BJJ, 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.”
To get to 3-0, Ferguson will have to first beat a tough, and much younger, wrestler.
“It’s a good match-up, it’s an even match-up,” Ferguson said. “I have no fear of losing, but I don’t get super excited for winning. I get energized and get my thrills from training and the chance to test myself.”
A highly regarded prospect and member of Brazilian Top Team Canada, Cherdivara (1-0) will make his Strikeforce debut in Nashville. Already well known in the Montreal fight scene, the powerful Moldovan-born light heavyweight is looking to become a threat in Strikeforce’s light heavyweight division.
A former member of the Moldovan national wrestling team, Cherdivara has raw power and has been sharpening his boxing and other striking skills for his multi-fight deal with Strikeforce. His training routine that includes shadow boxing with a 90-pound dumbbell has become legendary in the Montreal fight 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.”
A welterweight showdown between Tyron Woodley and Taric Saffiedine headlines Strikeforce Challengers 13. Other televised fights include Daniel Cormier vs. Devin Cole, Ovince St. Preux vs. Ron “Abongo” Humphrey, and Julia Budd vs. Amanda Nunes.