UFC exec very confident MMA will get into Olympics
The first ancient Olympic Games was held in 776 BC. It began with a single event, the Stade, a 200-yard foot race. This was the only event for the first 13 Games.
In the 18th Olympiad, in 708 BC, wrestling (pale) was added. In 648 BC mixed martial arts (Pankration) was added.
With various additions, the Olympics continued for over 1,000 years, until in 394 AD, when it was banned by the Roman emperor Theodosius I, as part of his campaign to impose Christianity in Rome.
Over 1,600 years later, UFC officials believe mixed martial arts will finally be returning to the Olympic fold.
UFC managing director Asia Pacific Mark Fischer told Reuters that an Olympic place might only be 20 years away thanks to the work of his organization in growing the sport, and the introduction of the fledgling International Mixed Martial Arts Federation.
“Mixed martial arts, under the global leadership of UFC and us really inspiring and pushing the envelope, I think has a great chance to become an Olympic sport because it is participated now by countries literally all over the world,” said Fischer.
“Because of the interest, because of the investment now the startups, gyms, promotions etc that are going into mixed martial arts, then we are very confident that we are going to have the weight behind this movement to be in the Olympics.”
Hugely popular in the United States, Brazil, Japan and Canada, the UFC is looking to extend its reach throughout Asia and the IMMAF, founded in 2012, say they have 21 member federations on board with that number expected to reach 40 by next year.
Fischer, who previously worked with the NBA in growing their business in China, acknowledged, however, that Olympic inclusion was not on his immediate agenda as he bids to help MMA and the UFC in Asia.
“It is certainly a goal of our owners to do it one day. It is going to happen,” Fischer said of the Olympic plans.
“Do we need it? No, we are going to survive and continue to grow. Would it help to put us on that next level of interest and really capture everybody’s imagination and understanding? I think it would help tremendously. But we are talking about theoreticals.”
Pankration is seen depicted on this urn, with one fighter “tapping out” using the convention of the time – raising a finger. One plus? This time, they won’t compete naked.
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