The MMA has made a major leap forward in the public consciousness, and now is the time to start thinking about including it as an Olympic sport. There is a long tradition of combat sports in the Olympic Games, including events like boxing, judo, wrestling, fencing and Taekwondo. MMA has emerged over the last decade as the face of combat sports, and its popularity makes it deserving of inclusion in the Summer Olympics.
The Ancient Olympics in Greece were all about combat sports. In fact, they had their own version of MMA called pankration. Pankration was a mixture of wrestling and boxing, which were the other two combat sports included at the Ancient Olympics. Pankration literally means “all force.” Fighters were allowed to use any techniques other than gouging an orifice, biting or attacking an opponent’s genitals. It was much like modern MMA except the competitors did not wear gloves. In fact, they did not wear anything. Ancient Greek athletes competed in the nude.
An Olympic Opportunity for MMA
During the run-up to the 2016 Rio Games, there were lots of talk about whether MMA deserved a shot to be considered as an Olympic sport. Dana White was out on the media circuit lobbying for MMA’s inclusion in the Olympics. It remains to be seen whether this will happen by Tokyo 2020.
The IOC added five new sports to the 2020 Games: karate, baseball/softball, surfing, skateboarding, and sport climbing. It has been confirmed that karate will join Taekwondo, judo, fencing and boxing as a combat sport in the 2020 Tokyo Games. With the popularity that UFC has gained over the last decade, it is likely only a matter of time until MMA joins the Olympic slate of combat sports.
Television Money Will Get MMA a Spot in the Olympics
Even though the time zone made no difference this time around, US viewership numbers were down 15 percent from the London Games. Much of the reason for the drop was because Millennial viewers did not tune in to watch. UFC is a huge draw among Millennials, which makes it a no-brainer for IOC officials to add MMA soon if they want to ensure bigger TV deals in the future.
MMA has come a long way from the days when it was considered a sideshow sport. It is heady air when your sport begins to get talked about as a serious contender for inclusion in the Olympic Games. MMA has come to be seen as a legitimate combat sport that is every bit as serious as sports like boxing and judo.
With is huge popularity, the UFC has led the way for the rise of MMA. Because it is so popular with the key young viewers that TV broadcasters want, you can bet that MMA will soon get added to the Olympics. If not 2020 in Tokyo, you can be sure MMA will be an Olympic sport by 2024 in either Budapest, Los Angeles or Paris.