Jeff Blatnick, who captured the gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling in the 1984 Olympics after beating cancer, passed away today after complications from heart surgery at the age of 55.
After retiring from wrestling after the Olympics, Blatnick was a broadcaster and did both NCAA and Olympic wrestling commentary. He was not a fan of pro wrestling, and said he would never do American style, but had said he was open to do Japanese style and was once a special guest at a New Japan show and later announced English language PPV shows for the UWFI promotion.
He was hired by Semaphore Entertainment Group in 1994 to broadcast UFC and remained a fixture on the broadcast team until the decision was made to replace him.
But during that period, he became a staunch advocate for MMA, testifying at legislatures and speaking to the media about the sport. He became a judge and had done events all over North America for every major organization.
Jeff Blatnick and Joe Silva were largely responsible for the original UFC rulebook in the 90s that was the basis for the New Jersey commission inspired unified rules that are now in place. He was also partially responsible for the term Mixed Martial Arts actually a Japanese pro wrestling term, as the designated name of the sport, which was up to that point called names like No Holds Barred, Cage Fighting and Vale Tudo.
Jeff was a good friend and will be missed by everyone in the MMA community.