Mixed martial arts and professional wrestling have long been intertwined.
That's not something most hardcore MMA fans care to admit, but it's true. The relationship between the two goes back many years, especially in Japan. Revered fighting company PRIDE featured professional wrestlers competing in mixed martial arts bouts that may or may not have been on the level, depending on whom you ask.
And there have been plenty of UFC stars involved in pro wrestling in some form or fashion; Brock Lesnar is the most notable, but even names like Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn and Tito Ortiz have stepped inside the squared circle.
In the United States, we haven't really seen many active fighters maintain a concurrent pro wrestling career. Josh Barnett did it for a long time before his recent signing with the UFC, but it appears his days in the sports entertainment business are over, at least for the time being.
But things are changing, at least for one fighting organization. King Mo Lawal became the first to sign a deal with Bellator and TNA Wrestling, and now former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is following in his footsteps.
Bellator and Spike confirmed the signing today, and they're holding a press conference in Los Angeles tomorrow to formally announce the deal. Jackson told TMZ today that he's excited about his new home:
When you look at my deal in the UFC, and the scope of what my deal with Bellator and TNA is, this is a dream come true.
When other fighters get the chance to see everything I'm able to do with this deal and the benefits it provides, you're going to see a big change in MMA. I guarantee it.
Jackson is a longtime pro wrestling fan, so it's not surprising that the idea of competing in Bellator while also living out one of his lifelong dreams in TNA is appealing.
But I think Jackson is in for a reality check. It's one thing to watch wrestling on television; it's another thing entirely to actually go in the ring and do it.
Sure, pro wrestling is scripted entertainment. It's fake in the same way that Game of Thrones is fake.
But it's also incredibly hard on your body. It's a rare thing to find an old veteran of the wrestling business who hasn't had a hip, knee or some other bone or joint replaced.
For a perfect example, take a look at Hulk Hogan, the longtime WWF/WWE star who now acts as a scripted authority figure on TNA. Hogan started wrestling a long time ago, becoming one of the most popular and well-known stars the wrestling business has ever seen.
Today, Hogan can barely walk. Just watch him when he walks to the ring or does anything else that requires a limited amount of mobility. It's a painful thing to watch, and on his face you can see the years of abuse he's taken while in the ring.
Pro wrestling is hard. Even taking a simple bump—wrestling parlance for falling on your back—sends excruciating waves of pain through your body, and wrestlers don't just take a single bump in a match. They take dozens. And then they turn around and repeat the process night after night, year after year.
They say you get used to it after a while, but the truth is that your body adapts. You may not feel the pain, but you're still doing the damage, and it's going to affect you 10 or 15 years down the road.
This is a fact: Professional wrestling is much more damaging to your body than mixed martial arts.
I have to believe that Jackson is in for a rude awakening. When he reports to Ohio Valley Wrestling to begin his wrestling training, one of the first things he'll learn is how to take a bump.
And once he's taken a few hundred of them and has trouble getting out of bed each morning, he's going to realize that maybe professional wrestling wasn't such a good idea after all.