By Evan Stoumbelis:
I saw a story yesterday about why MMA would never be in the Olympics. Saddened, I thought about why MMA couldn’t be in the Olympics and what would have to be done in order for MMA to get their. After counteracting as many arguments as possible, I realized that MMA has come a long way since the “Gracie Challenge” in the 1920s. There are many things that have to be taken into account, and the question is, how many fighters would be willing to make the sacrifices in order to represent their country in the Olympics.
At first thought one might say, “Why would a fighter not want to represent his country in the Olympics?” but the problem is, Olympians don’t get paid, and MMA fighters suffer a beating on a regular basis. From a fighters perspective, why should he put his health at risk for fights he won’t get paid for? It simply isn’t fair to ask a fighter to fight 4 opponents in a weeks time. Not to mention the fact that after an MMA fight, both fighters are automatically suspended for 14 days as a safety precaution; In addition to suspensions for other injuries. Given how long the Olympics run for, it would be nearly impossible for a MMA tournament to take place with the 14 day suspension rule in place. I’m not suggesting they get rid of the rule, I’m simply stating that it conflicts with a tournament format.
Below is the post-action injury report from UFC 144.
Zhang Tiequan: 45 days no contest; 30 days no contact
Eiji Mitsuoka: 45 days no contest; 30 days no contact. 180 days or negative nasal x-ray for possible fracture
Joe Lauzon: 45 days no contest; 30 days no contact
Tim Boetsch: 30 days no contest; 21 days no contact
Yushin Okami: 45 days no contest; 30 days no contact
Cheick Kongo: 45 days no contest; 30 days no contact
Quinton Jackson: 45 days no contest; 30 days no contact. 180 days or right knee cleared by orthopedic doctor
Ben Henderson: 45 days no contest; 30 days no contact. 180 days or negative x-ray of both hands and left foot for possible fracture
Frankie Edgar: 45 days no contest; 30 days no contact
Fighters are generally cleared to return to training sooner than this, but as a precaution, until they are cleared they are restricted for a longer amount of time. As much as I hate to say it, this is the one argument that I cannot counteract. The only solution would be to start the tournament several months in advance, then air the semi-finals and finals on TV. Yet again though, it still wouldn’t be fair to fighters to ask them to put their careers on hold, just to spend several months training for several pro-bono fights that could result in injuries. Lastly, MMA cannot take extra safety measures in the Olympics like boxing does; Olympic boxers wear headgear when fighting, which MMA fighters wouldn’t do because it would make ground fighting nearly impossible.
Would I love to see Jake Ellenberger or Nick Diaz in team USA trunks standing across from GSP, absolutely, but right now, I’ll have to put that dream on hold. Will MMA one day find a way to work itself into the Olympics? Only time can tell.