Olympic Champion Rulon Gardner contemplating return to the mat

Rulon Gardner could have been an MMA star

Two-time Olympic medalist Rulon Gardner is considering a return to the mat. The 42-year-old Greco-Roman wrestler is currently training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Gardner shocked the world at the 2000 Summer Olympics when he defeated Alexander Karelin in the heavyweight Greco-Roman gold-medal match. Karelin had been undefeated for 13 years and had not yielding a point in the previous 6. He followed up his Olympic performance by capturing a gold medal at the 2001 FILA World Championships.

After a series of injuries stemming from motorcyle and snowmobile accidents, Gardner returned for the 2004 Olympics. After winning a bronze medal he left his shoes on the mat, which is a ceremonial symbol of retiring in the wrestling world.

On New Year’s Eve of 2004, he made his MMA debut at Pride Shockwave against fellow Olympic gold medalist Hidehiko Yoshida. Gardner’s size and grappling skill proved to be too much, and he took home a unanimous decision victory.

Most recently, he took part in a reality show called “The Biggest Loser” after his weight rose to around 470 pounds.

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