First Brock Lesnar made waves with a switch from pro-wrestling to MMA, now the almost equally famous David Bautista - better known under his wrestling name of Batista - may be able to do the same.
He is the longest-reigning World Heavyweight Champion in WWE history and also ‘won’ the World Tag Team Championship three times and the WWE Tag Team Championship once. Batista was also the winner of the 2005 Royal Rumble match and went on to headline WrestleMania 21, the fourth biggest pay-per-view event in pro wrestling history.
Those wins - scripted as they were - make him very famous in the pro-wrestling world but he has now left all that behind for a crack at mixed martial arts. He has been training under Cesar Gracie and will make his debut this weekend at a Rhode Island event. His opponent is Vince Lucero (22-22 and riding a two-fight win streak).
“How old is Bautista? Is he not in the WWE any more? Why not?” UFC president Dana White asked Fighters Only when the prospect of Bautista’s move into MMA came up during a conversation at the weekend.
On learning that Bautista is 43 he said, “Hey good for him, man. If he can do it then good for him. I don’t know the guy or anything about him but if he can do it then good for him. Its cool, I think its great if other guys are getting involved in MMA and he wants to give it a shot.”
Fighters Only asked White several times whether Batista’s age would rule him out of ever being signed to the UFC. White digressed the first two times but answered equivocally on the third repetition.
“I don’t know. I don’t know. I can’t honestly answer that question. I would have to see what happens,” he said. “When Brock came to me and he was 1-0 and told me he wanted to fight I was like are you f--king crazy dude you’re gonna get killed over here. And the only reason I took him into the UFC was his wrestling background, you know?
"And its not even about me considering taking him on, its ‘will the athletic commission approve it?’ In the UFC you’re fighting tough guys, real guys, so the athletic commission would have to agree to it too. We always do the right thing and pick guys that we know aren’t gonna get outclassed and hurt really bad…
“I don’t know, its all speculation. I don’t know what would happen or what he is gonna do in his career. We will see.”