Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren, seen here competing for a spot in the 2008 Games, is one of the many mixed martial artists who holds close ties to Olympic wrestling.
Wrestling has been a cornerstone event in the Olympics for literally thousands of years. That made it all the more surprising that it was suddenly, and unceremoniously cut from the 2020 Olympic Games.
MMA, as everyone likely knows, has maintained a close tie to the sport, and has seen more than a few athletes jump over and have great success. Naturally, reactions from mixed martial artists were swift and unanimously negative to the news. So what are fighters, journalists and Olympians saying about the news?
Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren, who competed in the 2008 Olympic Games, is dumbstruck by the news:
Don't know what to think about wrestling being dropped from the Olympics.It is a travesty and I am trying to get my head around it.— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) February 12, 2013
Silver medalist from the 2004 Games, and fast-rising mixed martial artist Sara McMann did not like the news one bit:
I am so shocked! i hope the wrestling community can pull together and do whatever it takes so the 2020 Olympics still has wrestling.— Sara McMann (@Sara_McMann) February 12, 2013
UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson and light heavyweight champion Jon Jones expressed the same sentiment:
Supposedly wrestling has been dropped from the Olympics!?!?? Someone please tell me that's not true— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) February 12, 2013
Aaron Simpson posted this, and unloaded a series of links and retweets on saving wrestling in the Olympics:
Absolutely ridiculous news this morning. World’s Oldest Sport, dropped from the Olympics. Just devastating. Feel bad for kids with a dream.— Aaron Simpson (@aaronsimpson) February 12, 2013
Former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida voiced his support:
Save wrestiling 2020 olympicgame!E um absurdo tirarem o wrestiling das olimpíadas,uma luta tradicional e uma das mais antigas!— Lyoto Machida (@lyotomachidafw) February 12, 2013
Former welterweight champion and famed coach Pat Miletich was beside himself over the news (and Hall of Famer Matt Hughes gave him a retweet):
The IOC removing wrestling from the Olympics is very disturbing. What do people think WAS the original olympic sport? Disgusting suits!!!— Pat Miletich (@patmiletich) February 12, 2013
Lightweight grinder Gray Maynard was as displeased as anyone:
Just read in USA Today, they are cutting in Wrestling as an Olympic sport starting 2020. I don't really understand the reasoning. Im shocked— Gray Maynard (@GrayMaynard) February 12, 2013
TUF16 winner Colton Smith said basically what all of us were thinking:
@sonnench Yeah heartbreaking! A sport that dates back to biblical times...but ping pong is on??— Colton Smith (@ColtonSmithMMA) February 12, 2013
Shane Roller and Johnny Bedford chimed in:
#SaveOlympicWrestling This will be horrible for all of wrestling if it happens.— Shane Roller (@shaneroller) February 12, 2013
I cannot believe that the worlds greatest, toughest sport will no longer be in the Olympics #SaveOlympicWrestling— BrutalJohnnyBedford (@BrutalBedford) February 12, 2013
Stay tuned with Bleacher/Report for more reactions and interviews surrounding this development.
As the day wore on, more and more fighters chimed in, including other Olympians. Ronda Rousey, who won a bronze medal in Judo said:
Fellow Olympian and UFC 157er Ronda Rousey on golf:"If you don't break a sweat, it's a skill, not a sport." #SaveOlympicWrestling— UFC (@ufc) February 12, 2013
Mark Coleman, who competed in the 1992 Games in Barcelona, said:
Sad day for me and millions of wrestlers around the world. Wrestling needs to be in the olympics #SaveOlympicWrestling— Mark Coleman (@HammerHouseMMA) February 12, 2013
Dan Henderson, who competed in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games spoke out during a UFC 157 conference call earlier today:
Hendo calls the IOC dropping wrestling "sad," but he seems hopeful that cooler heads will prevail.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) February 12, 2013