Former World Wrestling Entertainment star Dave Batista started a two-day training stint with the Cesar Gracie camp Wednesday after Strikeforce helped facilitate the connection with the potential signee and the noted California gym.
Gracie told Sherdog.com that Batista arrived this afternoon and is working technique drills with Nick and Nathan Diaz, Jake Shields and Gilbert Melendez in the Cesar Gracie gym in Lodi, Calif.
"We'll see how it goes," Gracie said. "If he wants to fight, we'll get him going."
Strikeforce is negotiating with the multi-time Wrestlemania headliner to try his hand in MMA. A long-time fan of the sport, who has reportedly trained at the Affliction training facility in Los Angeles, Batista began talks with Strikeforce last month after ending a lucrative eight-year run with the WWE. Batista said in interviews that he had become disillusioned with the industry and has pursued film acting.
Scott Coker told Loretta Hunt earlier this week he's already got some ideas for the 41 year old combat sports virgin:
Coker said Batista's star power, and specifically his ability to draw on an equally strong demographic of viewers outside of MMA, is an obvious selling point for the would-be fighter.
When asked if former WWE champion and decorated college wrestler Bobby Lashley was under consideration as a potential opponent for Batista, Coker acknowledged that the bout had some cache.
"That would just be a fun fight to watch," said Coker.
Personally I'm all for it. Bobby Lashley is already a very marginal MMA prospect who's developing very slowly and has shown no interest in facing other prospects like Shane Del Rosario. Why not pull in the pro wrestling audience to see a freak show? If they put it on the same card as some quality MMA we're likely to get some converts.
Despite Brock Lesnar's legitimate credentials as a NCAA wrestling champ, I think many of the fans who followed him from the WWE to the UFC think he learned how to fight from Vince McMahon. Those fans are highly likely to tune in to see Batista try his luck.
With Dana White happily promoting James Toney vs Randy Coture as a "freak show", I don't see any reason why Strikeforce shouldn't try it. As long as Batista gets the thumbs up from Cesar Gracie and passes muster with the relevant athletic commissions, that is.
After all, Tim Sylvia vs Mariusz Pudzianowski ended up anchoring a very entertaining card featuring some high caliber MMA. And many of the most legendary bouts of the PRIDE era occurred on cards headlined by utter freak shows featuring the likes of Bob Sapp, Dos Caras Jr. and Bobby Olegun.
There's a place for spectacle in this sport. Face it.
UPDATE with Cesar Gracie's comments after working out with Batista in the full entry.
Gracie talks with Loretta Hunt:
Gracie said that his initial read of the 41-year-old pro wrestler was that he is a "natural athlete."
"He's got a lot to learn but his strength alone is impressive," Gracie told Sherdog.com Wednesday evening. "Obviously he's a beginner at jiu-jitsu but we can take a guy like that that's already a strong athlete like that and teach him what to not get caught in."
Gracie said Batista, who grew up in Washington D.C., wrestled in high school and has some background in traditional martial arts standup fighting.
"He's a pretty good kicker," said Gracie. "He hits very hard."