In a fairly surprising development, former WWE Superstar Dave Batista told TMZ.com that he has inked a deal to join mixed martial arts organization Strikeforce.
Batista, who attended the promotion’s show Wednesday, told the TMZ cameraman that he will be fighting for Strikeforce and suggested he already has an undisclosed opponent lined up.
Although there had been industry talk about Batista having MMA offers on the table, there was still some skepticism about whether it would happen. At over 40 years old, Batista does not have age on his side–he also has not been active in forms of athletic competition that would make for a seamless crossover to MMA.
Batista met with Strikeforce’s Scott Coker at the event last week, although most assumed it was merely a “friendly meeting” that was not going to lead to a deal. At the time, F4WOnline.com’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter noted that Coker had taken an anti-“freak show” fight approach, looking to instead book fighters and matchups that have clear credibility with the mixed martial arts industry. Coker, in fact, has reportedly expressed no interest in welcoming back Kimbo Slice, who for all his limitations, has at least compiled mixed martial arts experience and remains one of the sport’s most proven ratings draws.
Adding doubt to the possibility that Batista would enter the world of MMA came from reports of Batista coming out on the losing end of a backstage altercation with wrestler Booker T several years ago. Batista’s “loss” was allegedly clear enough that Vince McMahon, at the time, grew hesitant about booking ‘Big Dave’ as a champion.
Strikeforce has not officially confirmed Batista’s claim.