The idea of MMA becoming an Olympic sport has been talked about for years now. There's probably not enough time to get it in for the 2016 Summer Olympics but 2020 is a real possibility. Rule changes and protective gear are a given and the most important thing is to keep the core aspects of MMA intact. I believe the following format would be conducive to showcasing the various disciplines employed in MMA and educating the public about its intricacies.
THREE ROUND MATCH
ROUND 1 (3 minutes)
Stand-up. Fighters will engage in a striking combat on their feet. They will be allowed to punch, kick, throw elbows and knees. "Dirty boxing" and various Muay Thai attacks during the clinch are permitted. Throws and takedowns are allowed and count towards the overall assessment of the round, but the fighters are immediately reset on their feet after each successful takedown. Since the focus of this round is striking, defensive clinches will be broken up after exactly 3 seconds (counted aloud by the referee). During this brief window the fighters may attempt to throw or trip their opponent. In the event of a knockdown, the standing fighter may elect to jump on his fallen opponent to try to finish. He will be given a maximum of 5 seconds (counted aloud by the ref) to do some ground and pound. Of course, the referee can stop the bout even before the 5 seconds expire. KO's and TKO's will end the match.
ROUND 2 (4 minutes)
Ground. Fighters can ground and pound and/or attempt submissions. The round begins with the fighters in the full guard position (who's on top/bottom determined by coin toss). If after 2 minutes the original fighter on the bottom is still on the bottom (regardless of how often the positions may have changed), the fighters will be reset in the full guard position. There will be a 10-second warning prior to the two-minute mark. If the bottom fighter is attempting a submission, he has the choice to opt out of the position switch and may continue with his submission attempt. There will be no resets for the remainder of the round (although sweeps and reversals are legal). A tapout or KO/TKO will end the match.
ROUND 3 (5 minutes)
Freestyle. This is your traditional MMA match. Stand up and ground fighting are permitted. Submissions and KO's/TKO's will end the match.
ROUND 4 (3 minutes)
Sudden death. In the event of a draw after three rounds, the fighter will compete in a single freestyle round. The winner of this round will be declared the victor. Submissions and KO's/TKO's will end the match.
SCORING: At the end of each round the judges must award the round to the fighter based on technique, effectiveness and overall performance. Rounds 1 and 2 are each worth 1 point. Round 3 is worth 2 points.
I think this is a very good foundation for an Olympic-style MMA match. I am convinced that nothing can validate and legitimize MMA more than its induction into Olympics. What do you think?