Mixed martial arts as a sport that is continuing to grow and expand. Looking around the world, more and more locations are legalizing the sport. While MMA still has its opponents and those that stand in its way, promotions such as the UFC, Strikeforce, Bellator and DREAM continue to look for ways to further its change and development.
As the sport continues to grow, I have been asking the question that may be too early to ask, but still worth the thought. Could mixed martial arts function as an Olympic sport? The quick answer to the question is no for various reasons, however looking deeper into the question poses some interesting points.
The simple notion of bringing MMA into the world’s sports scene would create an epic uproar. While many mainstream media outlets portray the sport as nothing more than barbaric, true fans know the deeper aspects of the sport. Yet, the perception of the sport would cause many within the Olympic committee to reject the idea of it being used as a sport. It would take a massive public relations effort by all the big professional names, athletes and scientists in the sports world to show the committee that the sport isn’t as “brutal” as it is believed.
One important part of the debate would be to look at how various aspects of MMA are already Olympic sports. Boxing, Judo and Wrestling are all martial arts styles that MMA athletes use during their careers. With slight rule changes, all of these sports have taken their place during the summer games each session. If MMA was to subject itself to this same alteration of rules, would it lend itself to becoming an Olympic sport? I believe it would. Amateur MMA events use variations of the rules to protect young prospects while still creating exciting events.
Another interesting point would be the potential marketing blitz that could be MMA in the Olympics. In all honesty, the Olympic Games may not hold the importance that it once did. Stars such as Michael Phelps aren’t big stories except for once every four years. Big names stars such as NBA and MLB players don’t represent their country and play for their national teams. However, with MMA I believe it would be quite different. Imagine a Canadian team led by Georges St. Pierre. A British team with Michael Bisping as captain. A Brazilian or Mexican national team. The idea of an US National MMA team led by Randy Couture. The marketing possibilities would be the biggest thing to hit the sport in its young mainstream life.
While I do not believe that the mainstream sports world is ready to accept MMA on the world stage, I believe it could be done. With the right amount of marketing and research, the MMA community could prove that the sport would be a great draw for the Summer Olympics. That would be a great mountain to climb, but if it was done, the sport would have grown larger than many people could have ever imagined.
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