Olympic wrestling appears to be on the way out. After rumors of it potentially being one of the six sports the IOC was going to ax for such luminary sports as Chinese dance-fighting (Wushu), golf and ping pong. We have to be reminded that the Olympic ledger is filled with stories from Ancient Greece of such luminaries of gold like Tibericus and Thundercles, famous for trying to quell the wrath of the gods to hit par on Athens’s legendary 15th hole. It’s not quite as strong as the famed match between Gumpicus and OtherGuyicus in table tennis, of course, but it’s still an Olympic memory shared over the years from the ancient Greeks to us.
All kidding aside eliminating wrestling is a ridiculously bad move by the IOC, taking out the oldest competitive sport in the world from the roster for any number of sports that don’t have the history of Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling. It’s a move that speaks of a commercial entity looking to maximize its dollars on the backs of athletes who only get things like “honor” and “glory” while Olympic committees live like kings.
The IOC is a corrupt organization that bankrupts cities in its wake, a scam that makes the NCAA look legitimate by comparison. It’s a suspect move done for increased monies, nothing more, and everyone knows it. But it’s not necessarily the worst thing for a couple of other sports.
MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu could wind up the biggest winners in all of this.
The one thing we’ve seen in the past couple years is high level wrestlers who have spent the bulk of their athletic career wrestling transition into MMA and find success. Chris Weidman’s failed Olympic run turned him on to the sport and he’s now an elite middleweight. Ben Askren and Daniel Cormier find themselves as elite fighters after Olympic runs. Henry Cejudo’s upside can only be hinted at as well; he’s in the prime of his athletic career and an elite level freestyle wrestler with a Gold Medal already won. After 2016 the incentive to wrestle after college will dry up for American wrestlers; winning world championships is one thing but the ability to have one defining tournament to make your impact will have been eliminated.
For someone like Jordan Burroughs it’s the likely end to his freestyle career anyway but there’s a generation prepped to be ready for the 2020 games that won’t be able to achieve that final dream.
High level wrestlers still feel that urge to compete. Every fighter with a background in wrestling at the higher levels points this out. There’s that urge to compete that never goes away fully. It’s why MMA has become the sport to go to for many former wrestlers; it’s the chance to compete and you come in with the best skill set possible to start a fighting career with. But not every wrestler gets used to being punched in the face and some never transition well to MMA careers. Not every wrestler has it in them to become elite fighters; one only has to watch how former AKA product Mark Ellis went from being a national champion at Missouri to unable to really become a great fighter in one of the best camps in the country. MMA isn’t for everyone, of course, but being competitive in something is still there.
BJJ could be a prime area for a wave of American wrestlers to come in.
Eddie Bravo once remarked that if you grew up on a wrestling mat you should easily fall in love with choking people out. Already American wrestlers are showing up in BJJ tournaments, et al, as the rules are now set up to prevent guys inexperienced with BJJ but with extensive wrestling pedigrees from starting out against guys inexperienced at both. Plenty of young wrestlers are also cross-training in BJJ. If you can’t get comfortable with striking but love to grapple than BJJ could be your next outlet. High level grapplers may not be millionaires but they do get to roll for a living.
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