During the discussion, the former Olympic gold medalist and WWE / IMPACT Wrestling Hall of Fame icon reflected on his past negotiations with the UFC and how he almost appeared as a competitor on The Ultimate Fighter reality show.
Featured below are some of the highlights from the interview where he touches on these topics with his thoughts.
On his past negotiations with Dana White and the UFC: “I don’t know if I would have been champion, but I definitely would have joined the UFC. I would have signed with them. They contacted me in 1996, right after the Olympics as well. Back then, Dana White wasn’t any part of it. I think the Gracies owned it. They offered me a 10-fight deal for $150,000. That’s $15,000 a fight. That didn’t sound like a lot of money to me. Back then, it was for UFC. Those guys were only getting $5,000 for a fight. If they won the whole tournament, they got $50,000. That was it. So the contract wasn’t so bad back then, but what it is now today, these guys are getting $16-18 million a fight on pay-per-view now. Conor McGregor and Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey. So I passed on it, and I started wrestling in 1998 with WWE, and by 2000, UFC started becoming mainstream. I was like, man, I’d love to do that. Then what happened was, literally half a year later, I broke my neck again, and that was it. When I broke my neck again, I lost all my strength in my arms. I lost feeling in my hands. To this day, I have no feeling in my pinky fingers and my pointer fingers. So I have a lot of neck damage, and it caused me to lose a lot of strength in my upper body. So there was no way, even though I entertained it in 2006.”
On how he almost appeared as a competitor on The Ultimate Fighter reality show: ” I went to Dana White in 2006 and said, ‘Hey, I’m ready.’ He’s like, okay, this is what we’re gonna do. He offered me a deal. He wanted me to be on The Ultimate Fighter with Kimbo Slice. I said, ‘Dana, those guys don’t get paid to be on that show.’ He said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll pay you a substantial amount of money just to be on it. I’ll take care of you.’ But he said l, ‘Listen, whether you win or not, I’ll give you a six-fight deal. I said, well, that sounds fair. So I was getting ready to do it, and I ended up signing with IMPACT Wrestling/TNA a week prior. I thought that I could do both, which was crazy, it was stupid. But TNA was gonna give me a part-time contract, so I figured I could train UFC as well. So I told Dana, ‘I just signed with TNA. Can I do both?’ He said, ‘No, you can’t do both.’ I said, ‘Dana, I have to respect this contract I have with TNA. I’ll come back to you if my contract expires in a decent amount of time and I’m still at an age that you want me, I’ll come back to you.’ So I had to pass on the UFC because they wouldn’t allow me to do both, and I just signed with TNA, and I didn’t want to tell TNA, ‘Listen, I’m not coming, I’m gonna go with UFC.’ Because I just signed a deal.”
Check out the complete interview via the YouTube player embedded below. H/T to Fightful.com for transcribing the above quotes.
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