How close did World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) legend, Kurt Angle, come to fighting in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)? So close that there were three offers on the table from the mixed martial arts (MMA) company.
Angle is the subject of a new documentary on Peacock entitled Angle, which debuts on Sept. 2, 2023. To promote the event, the Olympic wrestling gold medalist sat down with ESPN to detail all the times he nearly became a fighter in UFC.
“First time was right after the Olympics in 1996,” Angle said. “Dana White wasn’t involved with the UFC back then. They came to me and they gave me their best contract, and it wasn’t a very good contract. It was ten fights for $150,000. That’s $15,000 per fight. And that was the highest they were giving to the fighters for the fights.”
“I was like, ‘You know what, that doesn’t sound right. I love fighting, but I don’t love it that much to get my butt kicked for 15 grand.’”
Thirteen years later in 2009, UFC came knocking with a half-million dollar offer to put Kurt Angle on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Heavyweights” opposite Kimbo Slice.
“I considered it,” Angle recalled. “And I said, ‘Well, Dana, you don’t pay those guys to compete on TV.’ And he said, ‘I know, but I’ll give you a half-million to be on the show. And then I’ll give you this contract, a six-fight deal regardless of whether you win it, The Ultimate Fighter, or not. You’ll have a contract when it’s over.’ And I thought about it.
“At that point in my life I was 41 years old,” Angle concluded. “I broke my neck five times. I sat back and I realized, I started training for it a little bit, and I realized, ‘I’m past my prime, I can’t do this.’ So, I had to turn it down.”
Flash forward a few more years to 2011, and Angle was inspired by Brock Lesnar’s run to give UFC a try. Unfortunately (or fortunately, given his age), Angle was unable to pass the medical tests required to get licensed to fight.