I don’t know when exactly it happened, but at some point in the recent past an editor at the New York Times decided that covering MMA was worthwhile, and that’s awesome. Why? Because that means more quality coverage for our sport.

Here’s something on tomorrow night’s UFC Fight Night 81 main event between champ TJ Dillashaw and challenger Dominick Cruz. The angle here is about their wrestling backgrounds and the how those skills brought them to where they are now. Really, though, who cares about the angle? Mainstream media is giving MMA some quality love!

The much anticipated U.F.C. main event on Saturday in Boston features T.J. Dillashaw, the bantamweight champion, against a former champion and No. 1 contender, Dominick Cruz. As in any mixed martial arts bout, the modes of combat will be varied: There will be punching, kicking, elbowing, grappling and submission holds.

But, fundamentally, the match’s roots lie in the junior high school wrestling room.

Dillashaw and Cruz, like so many M.M.A. greats, got their start in amateur wrestling. The list of wrestlers who have gone on to U.F.C. success is long, and includes just about every American star. The light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier was a wrestling world championship medalist, and top fighters like Johny Hendricks, Josh Koscheck, Cain Velasquez and Chris Weidman were stars at the college level. Dozens of others wrestled in high school.

In the United States, wrestling is the only combat sport regularly available to children in schools. Dillashaw first wrestled in third grade in Northern California; Cruz started as a 78-pound seventh grader in Tucson.

Read the rest. It’s worth your time.