The 2008 US Olympic team is making it's mark on MMA. I started to notice it when I saw a tweet from Ben Askren (11-0) a few month ago, pointing out that the 2008 US Mens Freestyle Wrestling team was 23-0 in MMA. Since then wins by Daniel Cormier (12-0), Steve Mocco (2-0), and Henry Cejudo (4-0) have pushed that mark to 29-0. If you want to add in the success of Ronda Rousey (Judo, 7-0), and Randi Miller (Women's FS Wrestling, 1-0) the mark of the 2008 US Olympic team is now 37-0 in MMA. Rousey is a UFC Champion, Askren a Bellator Champion, and Cormier won the Strikeforce HW Grand Prix, so it isn't a mark that has been made just bottom feeding and compiling wins. (If I've missed someone, please let me know)
This group of Olympians is also proving to be valuable to MMA as a whole because they are providing depth to some of MMA's weakest divisions. Cormier is the only real Blue Chip prospect to emerge at HW in the last 3 years, and could be fighting for the LHW, or HW title by this point next year. Steve Mocco is less than a year into his MMA career, but his extensive background in wrestling, and Judo should help him progress rapidly. Rousey has dragged Women's MMA into the UFC, and new heights based on her personality and talent. Cejudo will be the most exciting prospect in the UFC's flyweight division's short history when he signs with UFC, and could become it's first breakthrough star. The US team isn't the only one making an impact on MMA.. Satoshi Ishii the Japanese gold medalist in Judo, is 7-2, and honestly the 2 losses can be tacked up as much to poor management, and matchmaking as anything else. He is currently on a nice 3 fight winning streak, and could be in the UFC with 1 or 2 more wins.
A quick look back at the 2004 team shows a group of fighters who did not commit to MMA as much as the 2008 team, but found some success in the sport. It is understandable that the 2004 team was not as active in MMA out of the gate, because of where the sport was in 2004, compared to 2008. Steven Abas (Wrestling, 3-0), Rick Hawn (Judo, 15-2), Rulan Gardner (GR Wrestling, 1-0), Rhadi Ferguson (Judo, 3-0), and Sara McMann (Wrestling, 7-0) have put together an impressive resume in the sport, with the final book still to be written on McMann's career.
That being said, where are the 2012 Olympians? Most of the US Freestyle wrestling team seems happy in their current sport, and competed in the recent Beat the Streets events in New York and LA. Rumors have floated that Marti Malloy, and Kayla Harrison both Medalist in Judo might try MMA, but neither seems to have happened yet. Considering the impact that the 2008 team is having, is anyone else just a little surprised that nobody from the last Olympics is making the jump yet? Guys like Mocco, and Cejudo did not make the jump to MMA until they had failed to make the 2012 Olympics, so we still may see some athletes make the jump down the line.