Sports don’t exist in a vacuum. MMA’s rise in popularity isn’t just creating fighters out of thin air. It’s drawing them from other sports, mainly wrestling. But now wrestling is fighting back in an attempt to keep its best athletes, and they’re doing so in the only language MMA understands: money.
USA Wrestling announced the creation of a fund that would award medalists at the world championships and Olympics, with a gold medal in London 2012 to be worth at least $250,000. That’s up from the $40,000 champs received in Beijing. Suddenly, the purse for getting the crap beaten out of you doesn’t look so appealing.
For years we’ve been hearing that mixed martial arts is poised to overtake boxing, and that the only thing stopping it is the mainstream’s image of MMA as a sideshow. Cartoony fighters, fluky outcomes and a general level of unprofessionalism are perceptions MMA is trying hard to shake. So why are they letting a quadruple amputee fight?
Kyle Maynard, 22, was born with congenital amputation, which means his arms end at his elbows and his legs end at his knees. He’s been a successful high school wrestler, but this is different. In this, you’re allowed to punch. And Maynard, I’m guessing, may not be so good at blocking. So why would MMA allow something that makes it look even more like a circus?
Video of Maynard in action, after the jump.