WWE star Dave Batista appears set to sign for MMA promotion Strikeforce, if the wrestler himself is to be believed.
Batista, who stands aproximately 6ft 5″ and weighs 290lb, was one of the WWE’s biggest stars, but he retired from the ring recently and was expected to pursue an acting career instead.
However in a brief interview with TMZ the 41 year-old states that he’s going to fight for Strikeforce. When asked who he would face in the cage he answered, “I know but I’m not telling you.”
There’s no confirmation from Strikeforce at this point that a deal has been done* but it should be noted that Batista was in attendance at last Wednesday’s Strikeforce: LA event which indicates that the two parties are at least involved in talks. It’s also been reported in the past that the wrestler has an interest in the sport (he was shown in the audience at UFC 82 back in March of 2008) and has been training in mixed martial arts for some time.
If he has indeed signed then it is a big move for Strikeforce in terms of his star power. The fact that another former pro-wrestling heavyweight star Brock Lesnar is currently the biggest draw in the sport tells you all you need to know about the crossover appeal that could occur from such a move.
Of course Strikeforce already has one former WWE star on their books, namely Bobby Lashley, but Batista, who was a six-time champion in the WWE and has more mainstream recognition, would likely generate a great deal more interest than Lashley has so far.
There are potential pitfalls if he does fight for the promotion however. For one thing he’s proven to be injury prone during his wrestling career and he’s also been caught up in allegations of steroid use in the past. From an MMA purists stand-point there may also be a fear that this is another ‘gimmick’ like NFL legend Herschel Walker who will be given easy fights and take up valuable space on the main cards that should be reserved for more deserving and talented MMA fighters.
*Update: Strikeforce’s Mike Afromowitz says that they have not signed the wrestler. MMAjunkie do however report that there have been informal talks and a deal may indeed materialize at some stage.
Check out Batista’s conversation with TMZ below.
And here’s footage of Batista training at the Affliction gym a few months ago.