David Bautista Jr. better known as the six-time WWE heavyweight champion, “The Animal” Batista, has expressed interest in mixed martial arts and acting since his contract expired. Since his departure from professional wrestling he has been everywhere.
He has openly told reporters that he left the WWE due to the new direction of the company. He has claimed that another professional wrestling company, TNA wrestling, has offered him a deal. However, he does not believe that they can deliver the same money that WWE gave him.
On June 16, 2010, he attended a Strikeforce MMA event. A week later, he told TMZ.com that he is signing with Strikeforce, but refused to mention who his first opponent would be. Strikeforce later advised that he has not been signed and that they are still in contractual talks with him. The major road blocks at this point has been money and schedule.
His wrestling persona made him a popular character during WWE tours over seas. He walked out to the ring along side fellow countryman, Manny Pacquiao, for his fight against Ricky Hatton. His international celebrity has been established and there is no question he could be a big draw in MMA.
Professional wrestlers competing in MMA isn’t something new. PRIDE, a defunct MMA company from Japan, showcased several professional wrestlers on their cards. Kazushi Sakuraba, Dan Severn, Ken Shamrock, Don Frye, Nobuhiko Takada, Kiyoshi Tamura and Kazuyuki Fujita are all professional wrestlers who made successful transitions into MMA.
Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley have been successful thus far with their transition from professional wrestling into mixed martial arts. Lesnar and Lashley have a fantastic amateur wrestling pedigree which is a huge asset in the world of MMA.
Batista does not come from a decorated college athletic background. He has only recently begun training in MMA at the Affliction gym. His lack of combat sports experience and age limits his potential on the big stage.
His career with the WWE between 2002 and 2010 was filled with injuries. Those injuries contributed to his lack of mobility in the ring which could affect his ability in the cage
Former WWE & TNA wrestler, Booker T told a celebrity gossip site that he doesn’t think Batista can “match up” with some of the big boys in Strikeforce. Booker says Batista wouldn’t last five minutes in the cage with Bobby Lashley or any of Stikeforce’s other heavyweight fighters.
Brock Lesnar commented on Batista’s aspirations. Lesnar said, "Get in line, everybody and their dog wants to get into fighting," he said. "Next question, we're talking about a heavyweight championship fight, not some wannabe."
The MMA bandwagon is on full steam. There are plenty of former NFL players, boxers, amateur wrestlers and professional wrestlers testing the waters.
UFC recently signed James Toney to a multi-fight deal. The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 showcased a couple of former NFL players and internet famous, Kimbo Slice.
MMA companies are not just signing fighters who have proven records on smaller shows. They are picking up already recognizable sports names. It’s about the pay-per-views buy rates. People have to be interested in the fighter to pay out their hard earned money.
If Batista signs with Strikeforce, look for a mega-battle with Bobby Lashley. It won’t be because they are both exceptional MMA fighters, but because of their professional wrestling background. It will sell tickets and garner a lot of exposure.
Batista being successful in MMA is doubtful. He has more promise with a supporting role in an action film.
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