From MMA to Team USA

Summer might still be a couple of months away, but the excitement over the 2016 Summer Olympic Games is already building within the combat sports department here at InsideSTL.

The country of Brazil–that gave us the legendary Gracie family and the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu–hosts the event this time around and while the event may emanate from Rio de Janeiro, will be your local destination for all things fist and fury during the Games.

Dates: August 5-21

Boxing: August 6-21

Judo: August 6-12

Taekwondo: August 17-20

Wrestling: August 14-21

Bids for Karate to be a part of the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics failed, but it could be a part of the show in 2020.

Why Watch?

With the absence of an “MMA Draft” and aside from smaller promotions, the Olympic Games and the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s World Championships of Amateur MMA (returning to UFC Fight Pass this summer as part of International Fight Week) are your way to see who is on the rise in combat sports.

The UFC and Bellator have had their fair share of US Olympians strap on a pair of four ounce gloves.

The UFC has been home to 14 Olympians as of 2014 that include Hall of Fame members, first UFC Heavyweight champion Mark Coleman, first UFC Women’s/ Women’s Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, and the likes of current UFC Light Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier (full list here.)

Bellator is home to 2004 Olympic Judoka Rick Hawn and signed three-time national wrestling champion, All-American, and Olympic hopeful Ed Ruth on May 11 of last year.

According to, Team USA ranks as follows as of today:

  • Leads all other nations in Wrestling with 125 medals (50G-42S-33B)

  • Leads all other nations in Boxing with 110 medals (49G-23S-38B.)

  • 3rd in Taekwondo with 8 medals (2G-23S-4B)

  • 13th in Judo with 12 medals (1G-3S-8B)

While we might still have a long way to go in Judo, when it comes to the sport that has been touted by a number of fighters as providing the best base for MMA and simply throwing hands, Team USA has stood tall throughout history. Can we do it again?

Wait and see. There are 122 days left until Rio.