Why Is MMA Not a Part of the Olympics? Find Out What Dana White Thinks About It

Published 07/19/2021, 9:10 AM EDT
CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 24: UFC President Dana White interacts with media during the UFC on FOX press conference on January 24, 2013 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The greatest sporting event on the planet is set to start on July 23, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics were all set to happen back in 2020 but were postponed because of the Coronavirus. While all sports fans are eagerly waiting for the event to begin. Every time the Olympics are set to happen, MMA fans have just one question in their mind. Why is MMA not a part of the Olympics?


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MMA is one of the most popular sports in the world. With many MMA stars, like Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov having fans all over the world. Therefore, many people often question why MMA is not an Olympic sport.


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To understand why MMA is not a part of the Olympics, one would have to look at different aspects of the same. First, we must understand what makes a sport eligible for the Olympics, and then we must see why MMA is not a part of it.

The Eligibility Criteria For the Olympics

For a sport to be eligible in Olympics it has to uphold some conditions. They mainly based these conditions on 3 aspects.

  • Governing body and participation of countries: For a sport to be a part of the Olympics, they have to consider if there is an international body that overlooks the sport. (For example FIFA – Football, BWF – Badminton) Another thing that is taken into consideration is that how many countries compete in the sport on the world stage. Men must practice the sport in over 75 countries and on 4 continents. While for women, No of countries should be more than 40 and at least 3 continents.
  • Athleticism: Another factor that determines the involvement of a sport in the Olympics is that it should be a physical sport. This is the reason that Chess, which is popular worldwide, is not a part of the games. Motorized or machine-based sports are also not allowed to be a part of the Olympics.

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  • Value-added and popularity: As we consider the Olympics to be the pinnacle of sports. Any sport that is a part of the games should be high in values and adhere to the spirit of sports. The popularity of a given sport is another factor involved in choosing a sport for the Olympics.

Is MMA eligible to be a part of the Olympics?

The first thing that a sport requires to be a part of the Olympics is a central International governing body. And back in 2012, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation was founded which overlooks MMA all around the world. When it comes to the popularity of the sport, MMA was one of the most-watched sports in 2020, with UFC spearheading its rise.

They clearly fulfill the athleticism point, as MMA is one of the most physically challenging sports in the world. However, this is also one reason that MMA is not a part of the Olympics. When back in 2018, the IMMAF had applied for membership to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Global Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF) they denied it saying that MMA was too violent.

Even boxing, which is one of the closest things to MMA in the Olympics, is done at an amateur level in the games. Fighters wear protective headgear, and MMA could go amateur for the Olympics, but more gear would hamper the fighter’s movement, ability, and techniques.

Another obstacle that stands in the way of Mixed Martial Arts becoming an Olympic sport is that as the sport is so brutal, it takes a toll on the fighters. Therefore, for the fighters to compete in multiple fights within such a brief span would be very hard on their bodies.

What do Dana White and Khabib Nurmagomedov say about MMA being an Olympic sport?

Some of the biggest names associated with MMA in recent years have also talked about it being in the Olympics. One such person was UFC President Dana White. During an interview at the end of last year, White talked about the same.

He said, “We have been talking about that for 20 years. It is just not on the top of my priority list to get that done. It will be someday. I don’t know if it will be this year. Someday it will be. It should be already. It is not something I am running around trying to do.”

While White says that making MMA a part of the Olympics is not on his mind. MMA and UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov had different ideas. ‘The Eagle’ had shared his views on MMA being a part of the Olympics.


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He said, “The inclusion of MMA in the Olympics is one of my main tasks for the next couple of years; we are already working in this direction. I will have many meetings soon, including with the president of the Olympic Committee. We have a great chance of promoting MMA. If not in Paris, then in Los Angeles.”

It is hard to say if we will ever see MMA in the Olympics. However, MMA is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world and therefore one can not be sure if the Olympics and MMA can keep each other at bay for long.


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What do you think, Should MMA be an Olympic sport? Let us know in the comments.

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Paras Pande

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Paras Pande is a UFC author at EssentiallySports who is pursuing his graduation in Journalism and Mass Communication. An ardent follower of the UFC, he has been covering the sport for 2 years now. Before joining the team at EssentiallySports, Paras gained expertise as an MMA writer whilst working with Sportskeeda.