As Dan Henderson prepares for his co-main event match against Lyoto Machida for UFC 157 in Anaheim, Calif., the fight might not be the only thing on his mind. The 42-year-old has been involved in mixed martial arts since its beginning when it went mainstream, which might be why Henderson openly expressed his displeasure over Tuesday’s news that the International Olympic Committee plans to cut wrestling from the summer games.
Wrestling has been an Olympic sport since the games’ 1896 revival but it will be left behind for bigger, more revenue-sharing television sports. Henderson was one of the original crossovers from world-class wrestling to MMA, after the former Cal-State Fullerton and Arizona State wrestler appeared at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, before building his MMA career.
“It's kind of sad that that happened, it's the sport that has been there the longest since the ancient Greeks,” Henderson admitted on a conference call. “I think I've been hearing that being termed as a possibility for at least 20 years now, so hopefully, it doesn't stay that way, but, it's just unfortunate. I guess it's not as exciting as other sports and doesn't get as much TV coverage, you know, it is what it is."
While the IOC’s decision will likely impact the sport, wrestling will continue to move forward and Henderson believes it will remain a popular sport for young men – at least in the United States.
“I mean in our country, with folkstyle wrestling and that, it will still be there, especially in high schools and colleges. But it's hard to say what's going to happen with the wrestling community,” Henderson said. “I still think the kids are going to do it based on just trying to get better, or just to learn wrestling for MMA.”
Wrestling joins a long list of sports that the IOC has cut from its games and who knows if it will ever make a comeback. The exclusion will begin after the 2016 games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
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