Current Olympic sports include boxing, freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, Judo and Taekwondo - each of which are traditional arts used as base disciplines in modern-day mixed martial arts.
The London 2012 Olympics, which opens July 27, features 36 different sports, including several that utilize hand-to-hand combat. And with the 2016 Summer Olympics coming to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - one of the fastest-growing hotspots for MMA - now is the perfect time to start thinking about introducing mixed martial arts to the masses.
MMA Stars With Olympic Experience
With so many active MMA standouts coming from an Olympic background - Ronda Rousey, Mark Coleman, Daniel Cormier and Dan Henderson are just some of the many who come to mind - it seems like just a matter of time before the sport becomes a part of the Olympic games.
MMA gyms are popping up all over the world, and amateur athletes in countries like England and Brazil, are starting to train in the sport at a young age. Elite young athletes used to take up sports like soccer and wrestling, but we're now seeing an emergence of talent flocking to mixed martial arts.
There's no doubt that MMA is international, with world-class athletes from all over the globe.
Young, amateur talent is better than its ever been, and making MMA an Olympic sport would finally legitimize it as a "real" sport that has high-level athletes and not just barroom brawlers.
MMA features talent from across the globe, as the sport has been featured in countries ranging from Brazil to Japan to the United States and Australia.
I believe they should take a page out of the boxing book as far as Olympic competition goes, with only amateurs being allowed to take part in the event.
I don't think current UFC and Strikeforce stars should be allowed to fight in the Olympics, and the professional promotions likely wouldn't support their athletes competing in the event even if they were allowed to.
The UFC wouldn't want to risk one of their top-level fighters getting injured while competing in the Olympics, so it's pretty clear that it would need to be an all-amateur competition, if anything.
From a logistical standpoint, making a fighter step into the cage two or three times in a two-week span is one of the tough roadblocks that stands in the way of MMA becoming an Olympic sport.
I think they would have to go down the same route as boxing, with a single-elimination tournament and the winners advancing to the semifinals. In Olympic boxing, the two semifinals winners fight for the gold and silver medals, while both losing semifinalists receive bronze medals.
Following that same pattern is pretty much the only way MMA would ever work in the Olympics.
Should MMA be an Olympic sport? Let me know in the comments.
Eric Holden is a lifelong UFC fan and supporter of the sport of MMA. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
- Sports & Recreation
- Martial Arts
- mixed martial arts
- Olympic sports