Not a ton of people saw the action live, but the word is certainly out. Former WWE star Batista won his first professional MMA fight by TKO over Vince Lucero in a fight that won't go on anyone's top-match list.
With a Greek flag and a Filipino flag held up behind him, Dave "The Animal" Bautista heard his name announced for the first time in a fight where the outcome was not predetermined.
His MMA career was seconds away from beginning in earnest, something he says had been a "lifelong dream."
Neither he nor Lucero received a particularly passionate response from the crowd.
Once the bell rang, Lucero jumped on the attack, landing some solid strikes on Bautista.
The action slowed from there.
Lucero pushed Bautista into the cage, and Bautista defensively hooked his arms around Lucero's. Eventually, Bautista managed to take down his opponent, and the fight's end was then only moments away.
The MMA rookie smashed down on Lucero's head from both sides until the ref had seen enough.
Lucero was not responding to the blows; not properly defending himself. Scribble down a TKO in the win column for the pro-wrestler-turned-actor-turned-fighter.
The announcers were respectful of his work in WWE.
Rather than mocking him for coming from a "fake" sport, they tried to tie in his WWE experience to his new endeavor.
"He's used to some live shots," one of the commentators remarked.
His first MMA fight certainly had Bautista receiving far more live shots than he was accustomed to.
Bautista seemed extremely nervous and tentative to begin the fight, but as it went on, he got somewhat comfortable.
"I think my nerves got the best of me a little bit," he said in the post-fight interview.
He also addressed his fans via his Twitter account:
Bautista (@DaveBautista) October 7, 2012
Transitioning from the choreographed world of pro wrestling to cage fighting is not an easy one, especially for someone beginning the sport at 43 years old. Bautista doesn't look like he'll have a long MMA career, but that's likely not his intention.
He has movie roles to lean on. He doesn't need this to turn into a full-time gig.
Kudos to him for living out his dream, for climbing a new mountain—even if it wasn't the prettiest journey.
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