Every four years the nations of the world celebrate a spirit of togetherness and pay tribute to the ideals of cultural and ethnic diversity by attempting to crush each other in athletic competition at the Summer Olympic Games. It's time honored hokum - the draping of flags, the playing of anthems, the occasional blatantly unfair and politically motivated judge's decision. Who doesn't love it?
And why not, at least in our own minds, do the same with mixed martial arts? The sport might have started in the fertile mind of Brazilian Rorion Gracie, but the rest of the world has had 18 years to catch up. Who has the best combat sports athletes in the world? We are about to decided together. First, the rules.
A. I have divided the world into six regions, concentrating on the MMA hubs. If your favorite fighter resides outside these areas, well he's not part of this tournament. Develop some more fighters. Our six regions are:
1. The United States: Home of the UFC, Strikeforce, and most fight cards that matter in 2011
2. Brazil: The spiritual homeland of MMA.
3. Asia/Australia: The other spiritual homeland of MMA.
4. Canada: Home of Georges St. Pierre
5. Europe: A sleeping giant
6. Soviet Republics: If you were once part of the Soviet Union, while I recognize your sovereignty, you belong here.
B. The seeding is based on our USA Today/SBNation rankings. If we had to delve below the top 25 in any weight class to find fighters, I relied on the comprehensive rankings at Fight Matrix. The top two seeds receive a first round bye.
C. Scoring works as follows:
Gold Medal: 10 Points
Silver Medal: 8 Points
Bronze Medal: 6 points
Fourth Place: 4 Points
Fifth and Sixth Place: Zero points
D. Winners will be decided by your vote! So please let your voices be heard. And make your case in the comments. Coming up first: The Heavyweights!