The recent announcement about Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal‘s signing to both Bellator Fighting Championships and TNA Wrestling was a landmark deal for a number of reasons.
Sure, mixed martial arts and professional wrestling have brushed up against each other from time to time. Current WWE superstar Brock Lesnar left the organization and eventually rose to the heights of MMA by becoming UFC heavyweight champion before eventually making his way back to pro wrestling earlier this year.
Former Strikeforce fighter Bobby Lashley had a successful career as well in the WWE before moving over to MMA, as well.
But never before in the United States has a fighter been signed simultaneously to both a multi-fight contract in mixed martial arts, while also actively pursuing a career in professional wrestling, and that's exactly what Lawal is doing.
Roy Nelson, who is fighting this weekend at UFC 146, is a close friend of Lawal's and also a huge pro wrestling fan himself. He believes this is a huge deal for fighters because it shows that you can compete in MMA and still keep your interests alive in other areas as well.
“I'm actually ecstatic. It couldn't have happened to a better man,” Nelson told MMAWeekly Radio. “I think it opens a lot of doors for a lot of different fighters, and it actually opens up a lot of fighter's eyes that there's other ways to make a living, that you can actually do both sports.
“It's like it's okay to be a Deion Sanders playing football and baseball, or like a Bo Jackson playing football and baseball. It's good that athletes can do that.”
There has always been a fair amount of resistance, however, from a great many MMA fans who don't want pro wrestling to even touch the sport of mixed martial arts. Because of pro wrestling's pre-determined outcomes, some MMA fans don't ever want the lines to be blurred between real fighters and workers in “sports entertainment.”
Nelson argues that there is no line to blur and if you can't tell the difference between MMA and pro wrestling, then there's something seriously wrong with you.
“Does it blur the line? If you're a (expletive). Have you seen baseball? Have you seen softball? That's a lot closer than MMA and wrestling. If you're confused about baseball and softball then you might want to go to one of those special teachers and go yeah I'm diagnosed as a (expletive),” Nelson stated.
Throughout his own fighting career, Nelson has always dabbled with the idea of doing professional wrestling at some point. A huge fan of the old days of the WWE and other promotions, Nelson's colorful personality and no holds barred attitude would seem like a natural fit in the world of pro wrestling.
“After I beat Pee Wee, I might just have to call out Brock Lesnar,” said Nelson. “I might just have to go to WWE because I might just have to call him out, go to WWE, and whoop his ass.”
- professional wrestling
- UFC heavyweight champion
- mixed martial arts