Imagine watching top mixed martial artists with amateur wrestling backgrounds return to their roots to take on today’s top college mat stars… all to help return wrestling to the Olympics.
It’s an idea at the heart of an article posted at MMAWeekly.com Friday.
In an article titled “Could UFC, Daniel Cormier help save Olympic wrestling with crossover matches?” the MMA website offers up the idea of MMA vs. collegiate matches to promote wrestling in the aftermath of the International Olympic Committee’s decision in February to eliminate the sport after the 2016 Olympics.
Even though the IOC executive board has since put wrestling on a short list of sports for consideration for the 2020 Olympics, MMAWeekly.com still sees a critical need to boost interest in the oldest and greatest sport, writing, “Supporters of the sport have learned a valuable lesson that anything less than growing is dying.”
“In that vein, it appears the wrestling world is looking to take the next big step in promoting the sport on a national level.”
According to MMAWeekly.com, that next step would be a mega-wrestling event this fall, ideally, just before the IOC makes its decision. (The website cites Metamoris, a successful jiu jitsu event earlier this month, as a possible model.) The original idea for the wrestling event was focused on bringing together wrestlers from around the world, competing in all forms of the sport… but now some folks are casting a wider net by welcoming the participation of former wrestlers who are now MMA stars.
The idea? To help reinstate wrestling to the Olympics, of course, but also to generate even more publicity for and interest in all levels of wrestling… attract MMA fans to amateur wrestling … reaffirm the already-strong wrestling-MMA bond… and be ultimately beneficial to both wrestling and MMA organizations.
MMA loaded with wrestling talent
Since the earliest days of MMA, wrestlers have found success in various promotions, including Bellator and UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships). At least four members of the 2008 US Olympic wrestling team – Ben Askren, Daniel Cormier, Steve Mocco and Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo – are currently competing in MMA. Other past Olympians who have competed in MMA include 2004 silver medalist Sara McMann, Mark Coleman, Dan Henderson and Matt Lindland.
The list of wrestlers-turned-MMA stars goes beyond the Olympics to include former college matmen, including UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez, UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones, UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson, former Bellator heavyweight champ Cole Konrad, just-crowned Resurrection Fighting Alliance featherweight champ Lance Palmer… to name a few.
As Cormier, who, in addition to being a two-time Olympian, was an NCAA All-American for Oklahoma State, told BleacherReport.com after the initial IOC decision to axe wrestling in February, “It’s time for us to stand for the sport that’s made us all.”
The mind reels at the possibility of seeing some of MMA’s most exciting athletes return to their wrestling roots to take on the best current or recent-vintage college mat studs. The match-ups don’t have to be limited to MMA vs. collegians. What about the best of US taking on the world’s best… or, as MMAWeekly.com suggests, a rematch of the 2013 NCAA Division I 165-pound title bout between four-time NCAA champ Kyle Dake and Penn State’s David Taylor.
Of course these kinds of matches would require approvals from participating organizations such as UFC, NCAA and USA Wrestling. But, in the name of helping promote the significance of having wrestling make its rightful return to the Olympic sports roster, we can only hope that the authorities are willing to sign off on this exciting concept.
Want to know more…
- … about how MMA stars can help the Olympic wrestling cause? Read MMAWeekly.com’s “Could UFC, Daniel Cormier help save Olympic wrestling with crossover matches?”… and, from February, BleacherReport.com’s article “Broken dreams and broken hearts: MMA’s Olympians try to save wrestling.”
- … about Metamoris, the revamped version of Brazilian jui-jitsu where contestants fought for submissions instead of points that attracted a sizeable live audience in June? Visit their official website… and Facebook page.
- … ways to promote wrestling? Check out these recent College Wrestling Examiner articles: “Novelist, ex-Minnesota matman Reasbeck: Ideas to promote wrestling better” and “Use promotional ideas from MMA to make every dual meet important”
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