UFC Joins the Fight to Save Olympic Wrestling, Calls on Bellator and Viacom for Cooperation

April 9, 2013
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DanaWhitePrePresser_001-460x270When the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted in February to cut wrestling from the Olympic Games starting in 2020, the decision sent shock waves not only through the wrestling community, but throughout the sports world; perhaps none more so than the mixed martial arts community.

Wrestling is a core component to mixed martial arts.  Several Olympic wrestlers have made their way into MMA, including Daniel Cormier, Matt Lindland, Dan Henderson, Randy Couture, Sarah McMann, among others.  2000 Olympic Games gold medalist Rulon Gardner has one professional MMA bout on his resume as well.

“This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said at the time the decision was made. “In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It’s not a case of what’s wrong with wrestling, it is what’s right with the 25 core sports.”

Wrestling is on a short-list of eight sports that can argue its case for inclusion in the Games, so there’s still hope for wrestling in the Olympics. The UFC is joining the fight to save wrestling.  The other sports positioning for inclusion are baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding and wushu.

“I’ve met with a lot of top guys in wrestling.  I met with them last Tuesday, and the UFC is joining the fight to help save Olympic wrestling,” said UFC president Dana White on Tuesday.

“Not just Olympic wrestling.  Colleges are dropping wrestling right now.  High schools have been dropping wrestling for a long time.  Myself, I have personally funded tons of wrestling programs and the UFC has funded tons of wrestling programs for high school kids,” said White.

“I can’t be the guy to try and run out and save wrestling,” said White during the UFC on Fuel TV 7 press conference on Feb. 13.

One man can’t save wrestling, but a collective effort potentially can.

“It’s in the discussion phase.  These guys are going out and fighting the fight.  I think what I can do, and not just me and the UFC, but I think other companies like Bellator, too – Viacom owns Bellator, and I think Viacom would be probably interested in fighting the fight too,” said White on Tuesday’s UFC on Fox 7 media conference call.

Ultimately wrestling’s Olympic future rests with the IOC, but there’s still time to convince them that they made a mistake, and still time to get the oldest sport in the world back in the 2020 Games.

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  • stevemcz11

    I really don’t care for wrestling in MMA. The judging in 99.9% of MMA fights goes in favor of the wrestler with adequate submission defense who can bore out a decision whenever he needs to and it has been like this for a long time now. Emphasis needs to be put on strikes and submission attempts and not on who is on top I have nothing against wrestling as an Olympic sport but I would like to think that this move will inevitably lead to less wrestling based fighters
    being in MMA in general. Except sambo I want more of that because it is awesome!!

    • Oswald Cobblepott

      Wrestling is the most effective technique in all of the martial arts…it is the oldest and will not be going away in our lifetime.

      • Keep telling yourself that.

        • Jordan

          there is striking in wrestling ?

          so wrestler can only slam , witch they don’t do enough , and blanketed , everything other than that is not wrestling

          as only one style fight I think roice answer us witch one is the beast

          wrestling is a core technique and very important, but It cant win nothing

        • Pizza boy

          Hey mr. Idiot!! If u think wrestling is boring and gay, then think about me wrestling your mom and sister…… Just think about it pal

          • falloniousWolf

            yeah..and corey will think about muy thai fisting your mom and sister….Just think bout it pizza boy.

            Also, can I put in an order for a large pepporoni pizza?

      • stevemcz11

        How do you figure that its the most effective technique? A lot of MMA fans would agree that using your wrestling to be on top doesn’t necessarily mean you are winning. The guy on the bottom could be far more dangerous off his back than the guy on top but the guy on top will win hands down on points every time. Have you ever seen a person double leg takedown another person to death?? No you havent because that sh*t would take a very long time and we only have 15 – 25 minutes to see if somebody can finish a fight and that isnt helping anybody finish anything

      • falloniousWolf

        Dude…the wrestling in MMA is not exactly collegiate wrestling.

        You can’t headlock someone…etc…

        For some reason UFC fanboys equate wrestling = USA = the best form of martial arts.

        • badguy

          Rogan, Bas any many a trainer state wrestling is the best technique

          • stevemcz11

            Yet they both use BJJ primarily??!?

  • Gotta love how Dana tries to make everything about him.
    But really, Who cares? Americans.
    It’s the International Olympic Committee, not the American Olympic Committee. Only Americans care about wrestling and the Olympics are WORLDwide and have to cater to a worldwide audience.

    So get rid of that gay boring crap and bring in Karate or Wushu. After all when was the last time you went to see a movie about wrestlers and their ability to fight crime while laying on it?

    • Mike

      71 nations competed in wrestling in the last Olympics and the US finished 5th. Wrestling is a worldwide sport and those of us who understand the sport find it plenty entertaining.

    • cheap

      you have got to be kidding me. you should educate yourself before commenting. there are several countries that care more than us, because the majority of their medals come from wrestling. it will barely have an impact on our medal count. point fighting TKD is already in the olympics, so what the hell do you need karate in there for?

      we should be rallying for amateur mma to be in.

    • Milosc

      You have no idea about Wrestling

      America has only a casual affinity for the sport. There are places [you obviously do not know or acknowledge] where it is second to no other

    • Seth

      You Sir are a complete moron! Wrestling is one of the first Olympic Sports and deserves to be back where it belongs. Wrestling is as much a worldwide sport as Soccer/futbol being that is practiced all over the world.

      • falloniousWolf

        Yeah…wrestling is not just an american sport.

        Olympics without wrestling just sounds crazy.

    • Dana Black

      Karate is already an Olympic sport. Wushu? Really? That s*** is for Chinese men. Why replace one of the original Olympic events and effective combat sports (wrestling) with a totally useless martial art event (Wushu) that only one country actually practices (China)?

      • falloniousWolf

        Karate is NOT an olympic sport. Judo, Boxing and Taekwondo are.

        Taking wrestling out of Olympics just sounds crazy.

    • Jesse Bowes

      your a meathead

    • badguy

      LOL only americans? oh boy please stop posting now. Wrestling is bar far more popular in many countries like Iran, mongolia, Russia and khazakstan ect

  • veryphil

    Thank you Dana!

  • Nick James

    yep kick wrestling out bring on the rugby15 aside.

    • Jordan

      as much I love rugby, i don’t d think real rugby can by played in a 2week tournament

      and I fear what a strong Olympic 7 can make

      remember field Handball

    • omg

  • badguy

    Wrestling is not just a regional sport or one area ect. Wrestling is top 5-6 participated sports in the country with Football, Track, Soccer, basketball