Shamrock is a UFC Hall of Famer who made it to the semifinals of the UFC 1 tournament all the way back in November 1993. He also had a successful career in the WWF (now the WWE), so his opinion on a MMA-pro wrestling crossover is quite valid.
Shamrock said one of the biggest problems McGregor, the UFC lightweight champion and MMA’s biggest star, would face in the pro wrestling ring is being the smaller man. In the Octagon, the Irishman currently competes at 155 pounds, and for the majority of his UFC career he fought at 145 pounds. The weight limit of his August boxing match opposite former world champion Floyd Mayweather was 154 pounds; McGregor comfortably made weight at 153 pounds.
“Conor McGregor would, I believe, have a really tough time trying to transfer over from the combat sport into the entertainment sport,” Shamrock told BloodyElbow.com. “Not to say he can’t; it’s possible for anybody. Just because he’s a lighter weight, he would have to have a whole lot of different types of moves in order for it to make sense for him to get in there and be able to wrestle the bigger guys.
“Listen, the guy’s tremendous, great athletic ability. But he’s a lightweight. And (there are few smaller-sized athletes in pro wrestling), other than guys that are high flying and have a lot of tremendous ability and their flexibility and movements and head scissors and all those fancy things they do in pro wrestling, which takes a long time to learn.”
Rumors have circulated rather recently regarding a potential McGregor jump to the WWE — perhaps starting with an appearance at a future Wrestlemania event. But nothing has come even close to fruition as of yet. Some think it’d be a good move: popular pro wrestler Chris Jericho said this past August McGregor in the WWE is a “no-brainer.”
Shamrock used McGregor’s bout against Mayweather as a perfect example as to why crossing over to a different sport — never mind to the entertainment business — is a challenge for nearly anybody.
“Conor McGregor is, at best, an average amateur (boxer). ... The guy walks in there and does a fight with [Mayweather], and he gets paid all that money, and he hasn’t earned his way up the ranks. But because of his popularity and what he’s done, he’s able to just walk right in there and do it,” Shamrock said. “He can’t beat Floyd Mayweather. Anybody who has a trained eye knows that Floyd played with him. Floyd stood in front of him, he didn’t move around, he got hit with three jabs by Conor, he got hit with an uppercut by Conor. And I think anybody with a trained eye understands that Floyd was dancing with him, and then when he wanted to finish him, he did.
“So that tells you how difficult it is for somebody to go from one sport to another sport, even though it’s pretty similar when it comes to the fighting part of it. (In MMA), there’s punching, there’s elbows. So [McGregor] can punch, but even though it’s boxing in MMA, Conor couldn’t keep up with him.”
Shamrock also explained that it would be difficult for McGregor to pick up on certain in-cage responsibilities, actions, and antics — the psychological side of learning how to pro wrestle, Shamrock said.
“Could you imagine somebody trying to go from a sporting event into an entertainment event, and have to deal with all the psychology: putting matches together, learning how not to rip somebody’s arm off, learning how not to really punch somebody, setting up matches, making it make sense, cutting a promo — which he already knows how to do,” Shamrock said. “There’s a whole lot there. Really, really difficult to do.”
Shamrock would only give McGregor a slim chance of successfully crossing over to pro wrestling if the MMA superstar made it a slow process. The 53-year-old said McGregor would have to take a year or more off to train, practice cutting promos, and make some cameo appearances.
Skip that initial process, Shamrock said, and it’s just a failure in the making.
“Protect him in that sense, without going out and having an actual match, and get him primed for it, I think he might have a chance,” Shamrock said. “But just to walk right in the ring and just start doing matches, it would kill him. He wouldn’t be the dominating thing that everybody’s used to seeing.”