According to a report Tuesday on ProMMAInsider.com, the International Olympic Committee, in what is considered by many to be a staggering move, has decided to remove wrestling from the Olympic Games beginning in 2020. However, it has not been revealed which sport will be selected to take its place. Members of the IOC are set to discuss that issue when they get together in May.
Many had projected that the pentathlon was going to be the sport that was going to be selected for elimination. So when news came that it would be wrestling, it came as a huge surprise to almost everyone. Wrestling is one of the Olympics' oldest sports, dating back to the very beginning of the Games. However, when IOC members took into account ticket sales, television ratings and rules on doping, evidently they came to the conclusion that wrestling would be the odd sport out. As with everything in the Olympics, it is also likely that politics played a big part in the decision. Pentathlon officials have been very aggressive in their efforts to save their sport.
With wrestling being removed, speculation is running rampant that perhaps this opens the door for MMA to make its debut. For the past two decades, it has rapidly gained in popularity across the globe. One of the rules for inclusion in the Olympics is that a sport must be popular in a large segment of the world. MMA seems to fit the bill, as it has solid participation in all populated continents with the possible exception of Africa.
If it does get included, it will be interesting to see how it will impact the popularity of the sport. Inclusion in the Olympics is certainly not necessary to be popular, American football is a testament to that, but it certainly would seem to be a nice boost. Currently, the United States, Brazil and Japan seem to be the dominant countries participating, but there are great fighters from other countries competing at the highest levels.
Another possible point of interest would be how the organizations would handle things. Dana White of the UFC is notorious for the control he likes to wield over his fighters. What are the chances he would give that all up, and without even being able to make money off of it?
Imagine if fighters like Fedor and Brock Lesnar were still the dominant forces in the heavyweight division. Is there any chance that Dana White would allow that fight to happen without his being able to promote it? And would the fighters be willing to have fights like that without getting the mega-money they could get if it were held on a pay-per-view? Also, it remains to be seen if they would be willing to risk the injuries for no pay.
Another thing that would be a great for fans, but would not fly with the UFC would be inter-promotion fights. There is absolutely no chance that Dana White would risk the "embarrassment" of having one of his champions losing to a fighter in another organization. Imagine Jon Jones losing to someone like King Mo in a gold medal match. That is not a risk White or the UFC would be willing to take.
If the Olympics do decide to add MMA, I would expect there to be no participation from UFC fighters. That will be written into their contracts for sure. Smaller organizations may be willing to go with it, but even then it is unlikely. Most will not be willing to lose their top fighters for extended periods of time while they prepare. Ultimately, it would be fun to see, but don't hold your breath expecting to see dream match ups involving the best fighters from all different organizations. That won't happen.