• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Wrestling's Olympic demise won't do MMA any favours

MIXED MARTIAL ARTS: The news that wrestling will be dropped as an Olympic sport from the year 2020 has been met with almost universal scorn.

Scottish MMA star Alan 'AJ' Johnston wrestles Ousmane Sidibe for position at On Top 4 in Glasgow
Scottish MMA star Alan 'AJ' Johnston wrestles Ousmane Sidibe for position at On Top 4 in Glasgow

And the mixed martial arts (MMA) community has responded more loudly than most. Ask any MMA coach worth their salt which is the single most important element of MMA, and they will tell you it's wrestling.

Loading article content

The fight for body position can open so many doors to successful attacks in the cage, and it's a battle more often won by the guy with better wrestling skills.

American fighters dominate MMA and it's in no small part down to the fact they wrestled competitively all through school and college. Only the Brazilians, who were brought up on jiu-jitsu, can argue a claim to the title of producers of the highest percentage of world class MMA fighters.

On one hand, the scrapping of wrestling from the Olympics is likely to damage future generations of MMA fighters as colleges and schools in the States may place less importance on the sport. With no chance of Olympic medals in the future, is there much point in investing so heavily in wrestling?

On the other hand, with no Olympic prize on offer, more top level wrestlers might try their luck in MMA instead, potentially increasing the influx of talent into the world of MMA after the 2016 Olympic Games.

In Scotland, our MMA fighters have not been exposed to top level wrestling in their formative years. So the best gyms focus very heavily on the importance of wrestling as a core skill in the cage, to try make sure our fighters aren't exposed when they come up against skilled wrestlers in the cage.

Some of Britain's Commonwealth and Olympic level wrestlers have been brought in as coaches, helping to mould more well rounded MMA fighters. It's a sensible approach, especially for our elite MMA fighters taking on American opponents in the quest to reach the promised land of the UFC.

Some have suggested the IOC has dropped wrestling as it seeks to introduce more exciting options. That has led to more optimistic fans to call for MMA to take its place. Certainly there can be few sports as exciting to watch as cagefighting, but the truth is that MMA is not even on the IOC's radar and it is unlikely it will ever be considered as a potential Olympic sport in our lifetimes.

The dismissal of wrestling from the Olympic table is, surely, bad news for MMA. But one thing that won't change is the importance of wrestling skills to the battle for dominance in the MMA arena.

Poor wrestling skills will continue to be exposed in the cage. Perhaps the playing field will eventually be levelled by this development as Americans place less focus on wrestling, but it won't take away the need for a balanced skill set in MMA.

Contextual targeting label: 
Education

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

140592