- T.R. Foley
Fight fans understand that some of the greatest Olympians often develop into the world's best mixed martial arts fighters. The 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing were fruitful recruiting grounds for the world's top MMA promotions, unearthing Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey (judo), Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix champion Daniel Cormier (freestyle wrestling) and Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren (freestyle wrestling).
All three left the poverty of the mats for the possible riches of the Octagon. The lure of financial gain for these athletes should not be underestimated. For most, martial arts such as wrestling, judo and taekwondo by themselves simply does not pay. But if you win and market yourself well, MMA does.
Though little has been confirmed during the Games, the following North American Olympians are considered the most viable MMA candidates because of their technical skills, financial circumstances, potential marketability and pre-Olympic training location. Interviews with coaches and athletes' statements in the media also were influential in deciding which athletes to include in the final list of qualified candidates. Here's the list:
9dScott Burnside and Craig Custance