Long before he moved to the United States to play a starring role in WWE, Shinsuke Nakamura had an offer to join UFC, he revealed in a recent interview.
"Around 2005, UFC offered me a chance to fight for them," Nakamura said to the Hindustan Times' Sayan Ghosh. "But, at that moment, I was under contract with [New Japan Pro Wrestling] and I decided to stay in pro wrestling. It was a good opportunity, but I don’t regret my choice."
Nakamura went 3-1 in his five professional mixed martial arts fights. He submitted Alexey Ignashov in his last fight on May 22, 2004, after the two fought to a no contest in December 2003.
It's certainly interesting to imagine how Nakamura's wrestling career would've unfolded if he had moved to UFC. By 2005, he was already a big star in NJPW, having won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in 2003, but it arguably wasn't until 2009, when Nakamura began emphasizing the "strong style" of wrestling that he started hitting his creative peak and building a profile that would lead to his WWE signing.
Fighting in UFC may have altered that time line or wiped it out completely.
The former NXT champion told Ghosh he has moved on from any desire to return to MMA given his age (37) and the time it would take to properly train for an MMA bout.