Mixed martial arts just made it through its arguably most important weekend in history, and with the two best pound-for-pound fighters, Fedor Emelianenko and Anderson Silva, showcasing their skills. Both fighters lived up to their billing and demolished their opponents. These fights, along with the absolutely stacked UFC 87 on August 9, made me wonder if MMA would fit in at the Olympic Games.
Yes: There is no doubt about the athleticism and competitiveness needed to fight. MMA fighters are known for their obsessive training, and have no problem fulfilling the Olympic motto of faster, higher and stronger. The sport would provide the Olympics with more superstars. Adding America's basketball professionals to the Olympics renewed interest in that sport at the Olympic level, and created a need for other countries to step up their game on the hardcourt. Bringing MMA to the Olympics would also mean bringing MMA's rabid fanbase to the Games. Great Britain has already shown their interest in MMA-they could truly show that if MMA were added to the Olympics in time for London, 2012.
No: MMA is not yet international enough for the Olympics. Though it is burgeoning in places like Canada and Great Britain, the sport is most popular in only three countries: Japan, Brazil and the United States. Also, fights take an enormous toll on each fighter's body, with medical suspensions issued after every event. To win in the Olympics would mean to win a tournament, and even in a modified format-say three-minute rounds, or one-round fights-it would be nearly impossible to fight more than one match in a two-week span. Also, fighters are financially supported by their sponsors and the purses they win in fights. Though an Olympic gold medal is a worthy goal, a fighter might not be able to afford to fight when he cannot receive a purse, or hawk his sponsor's wares.
In a split decision, the Olympics lose. Though it would be interesting to see, I don't think MMA could fit into the Games. It's a shame for the fans, because the trials alone would be fantastic. Can you imagine the lightweight division in the U.S. alone? B.J. Penn, Sean Sherk, Roger Huerta, Kenny Florian-depending on weight classes, Urijah Faber could even get into the mix. The good news is that despite not having MMA, we can watch some future fighters, such as Ben Askren and Ronda Rousey, in wrestling, judo and boxing.