The International Olympic Committee recently voted in several new sports that will appear at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. The newly added sports include baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing. Though these sports will be fun to watch, I personal think that they missed a golden opportunity with these new additions. Not to even begin the rant of why wrestling was ever voted out of the Olympics, mixed martial arts would have been a smart move for the IOC to make.
First off, MMA is one of the fastest growing sports on the planet. The UFC has been constantly growing since the Fertita Brothers bought the organization and with the new sale being finalized, we can expect it to continue to grow. The UFC puts on three or four cards a month, many of them international, and they have created a fan community that is extremely passionate about the sport. This does not even begin to include the other fighting organizatios like Bellator or Invicta FC that have their own fan base. The IOC would have a built in audience to watch the sport at the Olympic Games.
Next, MMA is an international sport. Because basketball is primarily played in the United States, Team USA is almost guaranteed to win the gold medal every four years. It's not even competitive. The reason American football isn't played in the Olympics is it doesn't have a large enough reach to have multiple countries field teams. However, MMA spans the entire globe. The UFC had roughly 50 countries represented in their rosters as of last year and one can only expect that number has increased. While some countries only have one or two fighters on the UFC roster, many have a wide pool of fighters that could fill out an Olympic team.
Another reason that MMA should be added is that it is a sport that can easily be competed by both men and women. The IOC wants to add games that can field both a men's and women's teams. That's another reason that American football will not be in the Olympics anytime soon. There is not a large enough pool of female athletes to compete. That is not a problem in MMA. Some of the biggest stars of the sport are women, such as Ronda Rousey and Cris "Cyborg" Justino. The sport works for both genders and would be a welcome addition to the Summer Games.
Finally, the addition of MMA would be the pinnacle of combat sports at the Olympics. The historical importance of combat sports at the Olympics cannot be understated. If you look at the ancient games, they could essentially be broken down into track and field events and wrestling. Wrestling is back, but it has lost its luster. There needs to be another combat sport to take its place. Boxing is losing popularity on an international scale and I'm not sure if judo or karate could ever fully hold the attention of an Olympic audience. MMA could fill that void by incorporating elements of all fighting disciplines into a single event. Maybe we can hope for the 2024 games to not only be in Los Angeles, but to maybe add a new event as well.