Former Olympian, current professional wrestler, and featured actor in the new movie 'Warrior', spins an entertaining yarn about how he almost stepped in the cage with Kimbo Slice.
I’ve tried out (for MMA) five times; let me tell you what happened.
I met with the IFL, I met with Pro VFC, I met with Pride, I met with the UFC twice, and the reason I did not sign with any of them was, the three other companies weren’t paying me near what UFC was offering, so there was a money issue; then, the UFC, who I would have signed with in a second (and I passed their physical, thank God) wanted me to start just four-and-a-half weeks later. No way.
I had to do what they wanted under their terms. Me trying out for the Olympics is under my terms. I choose my weight class, how I’m gonna train, who I’m gonna train with, and that the US Open is when I’m gonna start.
It was hard because I love Dana White and I respect him a lot. The first time I met him he wouldn’t let me wrestle and fight, and I had just signed with TNA, and I didn’t want to go back to TNA and say “Hey, I’m not doing this now…” so he said “call me when you’re done wrestling”.
I called him a couple of year later – I was getting a little tired of wrestling – I said “Hey, I’m ready”, so we had another meeting and he had me do a physical, and he threw a great offer at me, but said “I need you in four and a half weeks.”
I said “I can”t do that. You’ve gotta give me 3-6 months,” but he said “I need you in four a half weeks,” so I said “Well then, we’re not going to be able to do this.”
We didn’t talk for a while, but now we’re back to being good friends.
The reason Dana White wanted me so quickly though, is because he wanted to put me in the next available PPV against Kimbo Slice.
I could have done it it four-and-a-half weeks, but I wanted to be at my best. I didn’t want to start training, almost be at my best, but not quite. No matter who it was, I knew I wanted to take them down and pound them, but I wanted to be 100% ready, I didn’t want to just train for four weeks. In fact, I couldn’t have trained for four weeks anyway. I would have trained for two weeks, and then tapered down for two weeks, to get ready. It didn’t even make sense. Two-and-a-half weeks of training? Who does that? Also, I hadn’t even trained in MMA for at least a year-and-a-half.
So, under Dana White’s terms I couldn’t do it, so I decided I wanted to try out for the Olympic team because I still want to compete. And it’s gonna be harder than the UFC. Making the team is gonna be harder than fighting in the UFC, that’s how competitive wrestling is right now. It’s at its highest peak since 1980 because of MMA. Everybody wants to wrestle because they want to be an MMA fighter.