Speculating about MMA as a future Olympic sport seems to only be relevant as a conversational topic because we are in the middle of the Olympic. I am not convinced that that the golden rings will encapsulate the sport of professional MMA. Apparently there was some discussion about this over the weekend in Sydney, Australia when UFC 110 made its debut at the Acer Arena. Dana White, UFC President was asked about hopes of re-directing his efforts for sanctioning towards members of the International Olympic Committee. "It would be a huge benefit to us if mixed martial arts became an Olympic sport...It would create instant awareness around the world," shared White.
Each time UFC enters an entirely new country they seem to out-sell themselves from previous venues. Australia's fans filled 21,390 seats, 16,500 of them selling in the first 4 hours they became available. The card offered a desirable line-up with the proper mix of MMA fighters that had a strong international presence and even fan base from the PRIDE days. Fighters like Rodrigo Nogueira, Wanderlei Silva and even Michael Bisping all offer a following that expands beyond our continental walls. WIth that being said, tickets sales to view a sport that has high entertainment value on top of unique sport spectatorship is not enough to warrant a global interest that draws the Olympic crowd and its constituents.
Surprisedly, martial arts is a fairly new addition to the Olympics. However, it is thought that pankration, a style very close to mixed martial arts was introduced to the Greek Olympics Games in 648 BC. Its rule set has always been described as a boxing and wrestling integration, but a mixture of combat sports nonetheless.
Boxing has been a contest in the Summer Olympics since 1904 when it was first introduced. However, in 1912 at the Stockholm Olympics it was banned because of Swedish law that prohibited the sport. Unlike today, originally boxers could compete in more than one weight class, as long as they didn't exceed the maximum weight for each division.
Judo became part of the Olympics in 1964, since it was hosted by Japan. It began with 4 weight classes for men. It was not until 1992 that women were allowed to compete. Today, there are 12 different weight classes in both women's and men's divisions.
The only other martial arts present in the Olympics is Tae Kwon Do. It was officially introduced in 2000 when they were held in Sydney, Australia. Before that Tae Kwon Do was part of two previous Olympics as demonstration or exhibition sports. The first time it was a demo sport, 120 men and 63 women participated.
Please share your thoughts on how realistic it is that Professional MMA may be introduced in 2012 during the Olympics in London - (where MMA has been popularized by UFC) or 2016 in Rio (where Vale Tudo, Jiu itsu and MMA are a large part of the local sport community).