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.