NFL player turned pro MMA fighter Tyler King recently fought at CES MMA: Real Pain; an event which received mass media attention due to the fact that former WWE superstar Dave 'Batista' Bautista made his pro MMA debut in the main event, going on to win by first round TKO. Although he won his own bout against Josh Diekmann via unanimous decision, King was at one point offered to fight the former WWE champion after Dave's original opponent, Rashid Evans, withdrew from the bout due to legal issues.
“CES contacted me and offered me the fight,” Tyler told Fighters Only just a few days prior to the event. “I immediately accepted. I was originally told that I would have an answer from Bautista's side by end of the night on Tuesday, which was then extended to Wednesday.”
When King finally received an answer, it wasn't the confirmation he was hoping for. “I wasn't really given a clear answer besides Bautista's [side] were not interested in having Bautista fight me. All the waffling came from Bautista's side. CES was very up front with me about everything and how the situation was going.”
Although the former pro-football player was never given a specific reason why Bautista didn't want to accept a fight with him, Tyler believes it had something to do with a lack of confidence on the part of the MMA debutant, stating he is simply “a bad matchup” for Dave.
“He has no amateur experience, my ground game and BJJ is more advanced than his, I have better range and just as much power so he doesn't have an advantage standing up, and while I have no amateur wresting background, neither does he. And with my NFL experience and the film on me I think he knew I was simply the better athlete... If he was fighting me I wouldn't expect him to perform well at all,” he says.
However, despite his belief that Bautista is not on his level as a mixed martial arts competitor, King was not at all outraged by the former pro wrestler's participation in the event, admitting that having such a high profile individual in the headline slot had its benefits. “Honestly I'm grateful he is on the show from the point-of-view he is simply bringing a lot of attention to a card stacked with lots of talent. He is pretty much the biggest reason this show is in a large arena with internet and direct TV PPV.”
“From a purist or sporting point-of-view, it's ridiculous he's getting the top slot on a major show with no MMA experience whatsoever, but hey, he is going to put asses in seats. Kind of like Brock Lesnar, except Brock was a legit athlete with a pretty elite amateur wrestling background. Bautista has no type of athletic background, let alone elite level. He is basically a Hollywood guy using his star power.”
When asked if he was still interested in a fight against Bautista, Tyler seemed open to the idea: “I want fights where I can test myself and fights that will push me towards the next level. If Bautista fits into that picture, so be it.”
With Dave Bautista reportedly looking to compete again inside a mixed martial arts cage, a bout between these two men could be on the cards in the near future. King may have the advantage in experience and athleticism but MMA could certainly benefit from more mainstream media attention, and it's not as if Bautista isn't used to performing in front of large crowds. If ever there was a time for some WWE-style promoting, this could well be it.