Mixed martial arts isn't in the Olympics yet, but that doesn't mean combat sports fans don't have plenty to look forward to at the Olympics,
Many of the disciplines and skills that you see in MMA will be showcased in various forms at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The games will feature boxing, judo, wrestling and taekwondo; and no doubt that some of the people competing in combat sports at the Olympics in 2016 will someday join the world of MMA. Ever heard of Ronda Rousey?
The Olympics don't have all the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas stage or the Octagon. There's no crazy ring introduction from Bruce Buffer or post-fight interviews with Joe Rogan slumping his arm over your shoulder. But there is something else that is equally as impressive, possibly even more.
There's an allure to the Olympics and combat sports in particular. There's a sense of personal and national pride. There's the feeling that competition in the Olympics matters, more so than how professionals fight for a paycheck. These competitors are fighting to achieve their dreams, to make their countries proud, and stand on the Olympic stage to hear their country's national anthem.
It's a moment that only comes once in a lifetime for most athletes. The Olympics are special and these combat sports athletes know it. Maybe the next big thing in MMA will be competing in the 2016 Olympics. And maybe some day, MMA will be an Olympic sport of its own.
Until then, here's a schedule of what to look for at this year's games.
You need a great standup game to be successful in MMA, and the fighters competing in boxing undoubtedly have that. Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar de la Hoya are just some of the great boxers who have won gold medals in boxing at the Olympics.
Boxing is always a popular discipline at the Olympics and this year will be no different. The big talk this year is Carlos Balderas, from Santa Maria, California, who will be looking to win Olympic Gold.
Schedule: Aug. 6 - Aug. 21.
One of the big storylines here is that Kayla Harrison, the 2012 gold medalist is back looking to win gold again. But it gets even more dramatic. For the first time, the Olympics will include a Refugee Olympic team comprised of athletes who have left their home countries.
Two of those athletes are Popole Misenga and Yolande Mabika, both born in the Congo. According to nbcolympics.com, Misenga and Mabika said they were forced to endure "stints inside a cell with little food or water for days" if they didn't win a judo competition. So they fled to Brazil. As we have discovered, judo can be a key discipline in MMA. Let's watch these games unfold.
Schedule: Aug. 6 - Aug. 12
This sport has rapidly emerged as a popular attraction since its debut in 2000 as a demonstration sport. Texas's Steven Lopez will compete in his fifth Olympic Games, hoping to win gold for a third time. Lopez is one of those great sports sports stories. After winning gold medals in 2000 and 2008, he was knocked out in 2012, when he was competing with a broken leg.
Also, China's Wu Jingyu is looking to make some history of her own. She is trying to become the first person to win three gold medals in taekwondo.
Schedule: Aug. 17 to Aug. 20
Freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling are what the Olympics is all about. Wrestling was one of the Olympics' original sports, dating back to 1896. Wrestling superstar Jordan Burroughs will be competing again this year, looking to win a second gold medal. Burroughs is considered to be the world's No. 1 pound-for-pound wrestler. But there won't be any easy takedowns for Burroughs. He's facing challenges from rising stars Russia's Aniuar Geduev, Iran's Hassan Yazdani and Mongolia's Purevjav Unurbat.
Team USA also appears on the cusp of winning its first women's wrestling title. The U.S. has never won a gold medal in women's wrestling, but observers believe that will change in 2015 with two world champions, Adeline Gray and Helen Maroulis on the U.S. team. Also, Saori Yoshida and Kaori Icho will look to win their fourth gold medals each, something that has never been done before by a wrestler.
Schedule: Aug. 15 - Aug. 21
Here's also how to watch this year's Olympic games.