The International Olympic Committee recently announced its decision to cut wrestling from the Summer Olympics. While this is devastating news for many in the fight business, UFC President Dana White sees it as huge opportunity for MMA.
In an interview with a group of reporters at the UFC on Fuel 7 press conference, White said the IOC’s decision came as no surprise. ”I’ve been battling this problem for years now. Colleges are dropping it and high schools are dropping wrestling,” White said.
Most experts in the MMA industry, including White, agree that wrestling remains a great base for aspiring MMA fighters to have. The sport, however, has significantly lost popularity in recent years.
“The problem is that nobody wants to watch it,” White said. ”Any sport, especially these days, it’s about selling tickets, eyeballs, viewers and other things.”
The IOC made no secret it based its decision to cut wrestling because of its diminishing popularity. As a result, a sport with rising popularity, such as MMA, appears to be a great replacement for future sports on the IOC chopping block.
Later in the interview, White shared his optimism about MMA becoming an Olympic sport. ”You want spectators, eyeballs, viewers on TV or whatever it is, [MMA] draws,” White stated. ”Something is going to happen, [wrestling] is going to evolve into Mixed Martial Arts.”
Whether or not MMA becomes the next combat sport in the Olympics is to be seen. Listening to White optimism, however, will at least ease the heartbreak shared many competitive wrestling fans.