The Manifest Destiny of the American Wrestler in the UFC

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

American Wrestlers have taken their rightful place of dominance in the Ultimate Fighting Championships. Bloody Elbow wrestling specialist Mike Riordan explains why we all should have expected this.

Ten years from now, we will look upon non-American wrestler UFC champions as quaint anachronisms, sort of like dot-matrix printers, or America Online. Johny Hendricks's title-fight victory at UFC 171 ushered-in a new era for top-level mixed martial arts: the era of the American wrestler claiming his rightful place as best fighter in the world. This era's arrival has inexorably approached for years.

In the coming year, American wrestling's stranglehold on the sport will only tighten. Either Chad Mendes or Frankie Edgar will take over the featherweight title with Jose Aldo's inevitable move up and conquest of the lightweight division. When this comes to pass, Demetrious Johnson will claim the flyweight belt, Edgar or Mendes the featherweight belt, Johny Hendricks the welterweight belt, Chris Weidman the middleweight belt, Jon Jones the light heavyweight belt and Cain Velasquez the heavyweight belt, leaving 6 of 8 UFC championships in the hands of American wrestlers.

Renan Barao and Aldo, two freak Brazilian outliers, will be the only non-American wrestlers wearing UFC belts, and those two will have to fend off a constant stream wrestlers laying claim to their titles. Those who hope for, or expect, some sort of Brazilian fighting renaissance, where South American fighters once again dominate the MMA world, should take a look at the numbers: the United States claims a little more than a quarter of a million active wrestlers, while Brazil boasts a population of a fifth of a billion. 300,000 American wrestlers versus 200 million Brazilians isn't a contest in the long run. At least the people of Brazil can console themselves by being really good at soccer, volleyball, and dancing.

The American wrestlers who will own 75 percent of the UFC's belts are not just any wrestlers. Five of those six champions possess elite NCAA Division I-level trackrecords. Terrifyingly, a constant stream of combatants with this level of wrestling pedigree will continue to make their way to the UFC's ranks. Last weekend's NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships only served to showcased the mass of incredible wrestling talent still left untapped. An almost limitless supply of American wrestlers stand poised to invade mixed martial arts at any time, like a horde of Visigoths gathered at the gates of Rome.

We shouldn't experience any surprise at this development, American wrestling's rise to dominance was inevitable, it is manifest destiny. Knowledgeable and cultured fight fans always knew that wrestling was the most effective base for real fighters. Only self-deceptive nerds thought otherwise, as they watched Dragon Ball Z reruns, danced around in belted pajamas kee-ahing and demonstrated their heroic strength by breaking balsa wood. We can't blame these dorky souls for wanting to live in a world where the wrestling jocks who gave them swirlies and wedgies were not really the toughest and baddest kids on the block. Now as these same wrestlers enter the cage and bully the best fighters from across the globe, even the most stalwart martial arts geek can no longer deny the truth.

Unfortunately, most of the nerds have not responded well to the heaping helping of reality administered by American wrestlers. You don't have to listen hard to hear the collective drone of their disappointed whimpers. Sometimes you can even make out their individual whines and sobs, which take one of several predictable forms.

"Whaaah, the Unified Rules are stupid, and judges don't score takedowns properly," some nerds say.

"If only they fought in a ring and not a cage, or allowed knees and kicks on the head of a downed opponents, the stupid wrestlers would get their comeuppance," other nerds complain while dabbing tears from their eyes.

"This is stupid, they are just laying on the other guy, if this were Pride, he'd get a yellow card," still more nerds cry, sniffling.

Mostly, however, the bitter sobs of wrestler-phobic fighting nerds take an even more desperate and defeated tone.

"Boo hoo hoo, me so sad, whaah whaah, wrestling is my daddy and I hate it, boo hoo hoo."

Hopefully, the nerds soon get over the destruction of their delusional worldview and learn to embrace, and appreciate their wrestling overlords. We should all admire greatness for greatness' sake, and dominance for dominance's sake, and should all realize at this point that UFC's destiny was always to become the dominion of American wrestlers. After all, The Ultimate Fighting Championships should be the province of the world's ultimate fighters.

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