In May, Dave Bautista, a four-time World Heavyweight Champion and two-time WWE Champion, retired from professional wrestling after a successful thirteen year career.
After spending a decade working as Batista for World Wrestling Entertainment, most in the wrestling community expected his retirement to be short-lived and predicted his future signing by Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, WWE's rival.
However, after attending Strikeforce: Los Angeles on June 16, rumors of Bautista's interest in mixed martial arts were widespread. On June 21, speaking to TMZ.com, he gave truth to the rumors and confirmed his interest in turning to MMA.
Since that revelation, negotiations between Dave Bautista and Strikeforce have started and eventually broken down several times. Over time, the deal seemed to be an impossibility, and most MMA insiders considered his debut to be on hold for the foreseeable future.
At this past Saturday' Strikeforce event Diaz Vs. Noons II, speaking to MMAjunkie.com, Dave Bautista said his interest in the sport is still strong and negotiations with California-based promotion were very much alive.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker spoke earlier on the issue, in August, saying that conversation between the two parties was indeed very positive.
If and when a contract is agreed to, Bautista does have a short list of demands and conditions.
First off, the retired wrestler says his earliest available date is sometime in March 2011. This would give him eight to ten weeks to prepare for his MMA debut, with training beginning in January after movie obligations have passed. It should be noted that he has been training with Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz and 7th degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Cesar Gracie over the past five months.
While money is definitely an objective in negotiations, length of contract and the prestige of his fights top are imperative for any contract Dave Bautista will be willing to sign.
The 41-year old former World Champion desires a three-fight (or more) deal with the importance of his bouts increasing bout by bout from a warm-up to a large-scale match-up to eventually a pay-per-view contest.
Bautista explains his demands as being related to his concern about debuting at an advanced age. If he gets his preferred contract, at the completion of the deal he will have turned 42, and he fears his window for success in the sport would close very soon after.
He is also very adamant about meeting fellow WWE alumnus Bobby Lashley (5-1) in a Strikeforce cage sometime in the future. Bautista is very confident he would defeat Lashley, who lost to Chad Griggs in August, saying "We're very similar athletes. I think that I'll be a much better stand-up fighter, and I think with Cesar's guidance, I'd dominate him on the ground. I think I'll be a much more well-rounded fighter than Bobby."
Concerning people's accusations of him being a circus fighter, Dave Bautista said, "I'm not going to come into the ring and start yelling and screaming and attacking guys. I'm going to bring some skill, but also it's going to be with a lot of speed and agility and power behind it."
He added he is either going to "win big or lose big."
One thing is for certain, regardless if he has any true martial arts skills or not, Dave Bautista's mixed martial arts debut is something you won't want to miss.
Check back as details relating to his rumored talks with Strikeforce develop.