Kurt Angle was an accomplished amateur wrestler. He's a former Olympic gold medalist. He's also a professional wrestling legend, currently
collecting a paycheck doing work for Total Nonstop Action (TNA) wrestling.
These days, the talk of wrestlers crossing over into the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) is all the rage. Brock Lesnar did it, and he even wore the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight championship belt for a hot minute. Dave Bautista (aka: "Batista") is currently readying for his professional MMA debut, which will take place in the Classic Entertainment and Sports (CES) organization, in Provdence, R.I., on Oct. 6, 2012, versus Rashid Evans (not Rashad).
Plenty of MMA stars got their start as amateur wrestlers. The list is too long to rattle off, and to say that wrestlers are making an impact on the sport is a drastic understatement (for better or worse).
Originally, Angle claimed that UFC President Dana White offered him the opportunity to fight Kimbo Slice on a UFC pay-per-view. Those rumors were later denied by White, but it appears Angle may have at least been asked to audition for the UFC's reality TV show, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF).
Angle appeared on Spike TV's "MMA Uncensored Live," where he detailed a time in his life where he (allegedly) was very close to signing with the UFC, specifically to participate as a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 10. According to the three-time NCAA Division I All-American, the timing just never lined up:
"The hard part about it is, Dana and I never had a problem with money. I met with Dana different times -- two times, to be exact, where I went out to Las Vegas to sit down with Dana White. I even took the UFC physical. The problem was the starting date. He wanted me ready in four and a half weeks, and I didn't think I could be ready at that particular time. I didn't want to go in there unprepared or halfhearted. I didn't want to embarrass myself. I wanted to be at my best. I wanted three to six months, but he couldn't give me that. I respect Dana White and his decision. I hope he can respect my decision as well."
Now 43, Angle says he doesn't regret the career moves he's made. There is a part of him that wonders what could have been, but he feels like he made the right decision by choosing pro wrestling over MMA. In his own words, the money [in MMA] just wasn't right:
"I would have done MMA if I would have known it would have blown up the way it did. In 1999, I joined WWE, then I went to TNA. If MMA had blown up at that time, I would have done it, full time. I would have gone into MMA. But, I was so far into it, main eventing Wrestlemanias, that there was no way I could turn back. I do love pro wrestling, and I love being with TNA, but when I look back, I don't regret it, but it just wasn't the right time. The money was in pro wrestling."
Angle went on to talk about an MMA fighter who is currently transitioning into pro wrestling [Muhammed Lawal], as well as a pro wrestler who's looking to do just the opposite [Dave Bautista].
Kurt feels both men will make the transition just fine:
"I think 'King Mo' is a natural, because he's got the charisma. But, he's got to learn the techniques. He actually has called me, every other week, asking me, 'When will the soreness go away?' Pro wrestling is very grueling. You take a lot of punishment. I think Bautista is a special talent. I think he's gonna do really well in MMA. He wasn't an amateur wrestler, like Brock Lesnar or Bobby Lashley. But, I think Bautista will do really well. He's a tough kid. He's got a great knockout punch. I know that, for sure, because I was up in WWE, and I've seen him have a couple of fights."
Finally, Angle addressed rumors that he may be contemplating a career, himself, in MMA. He was quick to state that he doesn't think his 43-year old body could handle such a move, but at the end of the day, money talks:
"I can't say yes or no. I'm 43. I tried out for the Olympics, last year, and I kept getting injured. It's one of those things where, I was wrestling great, I think I could have made it, but I just kept getting injured. I'm 43. My body's breaking down. The answer is probably no, but if the offer is good enough, you never know. Kurt Angle might be in the MMA Octagon."
Are you Maniacs interested in seeing Angle's 43-year-old body in an MMA match? If he'd made the move in 1999, do you believe he would have been successful?
Speculate below in the comment section!