TNA: Tito Ortiz and 4 MMA Talents TNA Needs to Bring In
With the recent announcement of Mixed Martial Arts fighter Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal signing to both Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and Bellator Fighting Championships, the possibility of more MMA fighters doing both pro wrestling and MMA, like Lawal, has to be considered.
Lawal said himself that several MMA fighters have contacted him about doing both.
However, both TNA and Bellator have to make the right choices. Adding the right talents could make this a huge move for both companies.
Here's a look at five talents that are or soon-to-be available that TNA and Bellator need to look into bringing in.
1. Tito Ortiz
In the history of MMA, few names have been bigger than Tito Ortiz.
The former Ultimate Fighting Championship Light Heavyweight Champion, aka the Huntington Beach Bad Boy, was one of the first, real crossover stars in MMA. He's got a combination of charisma and legitimate credentials.
Ortiz is in the last fight of his contract, which will be the final fight in a trilogy with Forrest Griffin and he is expected to retire after that fight. Of course, much like pro wrestling, few really seem to retire in MMA.
If TNA and Bellator offered Ortiz a deal after the final fight on his UFC contract, you have to think Ortiz would consider it.
This also wouldn't be Ortiz's first appearance in TNA. He's been a special guest referee for two TNA pay-per-views: Hard Justice and Bound for Glory in 2005.
2. Jason "Mayhem" Miller
In light of this weekend, this is the guy that TNA and Bellator need to be on the phone with right now.
Miller was let go by the UFC this weekend after a loss to C.B. Dollaway at UFC 146. UFC President Dana White said there was an incident after the fight. According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, Miller threw a temper tantrum after the loss.
Miller said on the MMA show The MMA Hour that he's retired. However, see the previous slide on Ortiz.
He has struggled in his recent fights. In the Dollaway fight, it looked like he injured his knee early and was never the same. He was also dominated in his other UFC fight against Michael Bisping.
However, Miller has been one of the most colorful and entertaining personalities in the sport.
In 2010, Miller incited a brawl on national television after a fight with then Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields.
Miller interrupted Shields after his win over Dan Henderson, demanding a rematch. Shields had defeated Miller via unanimous decision in 2009.
Sounds like something straight out of pro wrestling, doesn't it?
He also became somewhat of a television personality as host of the MTV2 show Bully Beatdown and as a coach on season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter.
The over-the-top antics that have made Miller an annoyance to many in MMA would make him a star in pro wrestling.
Plus, you couldn't make up a better angle than the host of a show called Bully Beatdown going to a wrestling promotion where one of the top heels is named Bully Ray.
3. Bobby Lashley
To say that Bobby Lashley's first stint in TNA was not successful would be an understatement.
They attempted to market Lashley as a two-sport athlete, but Lashley didn't compete in MMA while with TNA and his pro wrestling was limited to disappointing feuds with Rhino and Scott Steiner and a decent one with Samoa Joe.
However, with the relationship with Bellator, which wasn't in existence during Lashley's first run with the company, the chances of making it work are improved.
Actually, the deal with King Mo was rumored to initially have been for Lashley.
When King Mo is ready, Lashley would make a solid choice for an opponent. TNA also never got to do the Lashley/Kurt Angle matchup they were hoping to build to.
Lashley's weakness has always been on the charisma side, but he would do well as the silent monster heel, while letting someone else (such as significant other Kristal Marshall) do the talking.
4. Josh Barnett
Josh Barnett would have little trouble mixing pro wrestling and MMA. He's already done it.
Barnett has fought for almost every MMA promotion in recent history including UFC, Strikeforce, PRIDE, Dream and Affliction. He has also wrestled for New Japan Pro Wrestling.
He's also made his love of pro wrestling no secret, holding a pro wrestling match at a media workout before one of his MMA fights in Strikeforce and doing a promo afterwards that channeled the legendary "Hard Times" promo by Dusty Rhodes in the 1980s.
Barnett would be a perfect fit for the TNA/Bellator partnership. Whether or not he's available is another story.
Barnett lost in the finals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix earlier this month. Strikeforce is owned by UFC and it is not known if they will keep Barnett or let him go.
If it's the latter, he would make a great addition to TNA and Bellator.
5. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
The crown jewel that would be the biggest acquisition either TNA or Bellator could hope for.
Jackson would be the biggest star Bellator has ever had and the kind of guy that would get fans to tune into TNA.
The former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion is one of the biggest crossover stars in MMA. He also starred in the movie The A-Team in 2010.
Jackson has proven to be one of the biggest draws in MMA.
With UFC 135, headlined by Jackson vs. Jon "Bones" Jones for the light-heavyweight title, it drew 520,000 buys domestically. There was also the year-long build for UFC 114, headlined by Jackson vs. Rashad Evans drawing over a million buys domestically.
Jackson said on his Twitter page that his next fight in the UFC (currently unscheduled as he recovers from knee surgery), will be his last for the company. However, he does want to continue fighting.
That's sounds like a great opportunity for Bellator.
Jackson is also a big pro wrestling fan and has expressed an interest in a future in pro wrestling before. The biggest challenge for TNA would be to sell Jackson on signing with them as opposed to World Wrestling Entertainment, who would likely love to sign him.
However, the relationship with Bellator offers Jackson the chance to do both, something WWE likely would not.