MMAFighting Another major pro wrestling star is in talks about going into MMA. Ryback, a 6-foot-2, 290 pound muscular heavyweight, has been in talks with Bellator MMA, although they are not close to a deal. “Spoke, but nothing close,” said Bellator CEO Scott Coker after Ryback, born Ryan Reeves in Las Vegas. Although he recently changed his legal name to Ryback Reeves, he teased the idea of fighting Monday and those close to him have said that he’s very interested in the idea. Ryback, 34, was a WWE regular who left the company over contract issues in May and was officially released in August. He had intermittent pushes in WWE, including once headlining a successful pay-per-view show against C.M. Punk, although he was not the level of star in wrestling that Punk was. While extremely strong, he doesn’t have the amateur wrestling background of Bellator heavyweight and current pro wrestler Bobby Lashley, but is even more muscular than Lashley is nowadays. He was a baseball player in his youth and played at the junior college level before getting into the WWE through the Tough Enough reality show. He had gotten frustrated in pro wrestling due to not getting as big a push as he felt he deserved. While having mixed success as fighters, pro wrestlers like Lashley, Brock Lesnar and Punk have all done well as far as drawing television viewers or on pay-per-view. Lashley and Lesnar were both high-level amateur wrestlers, with Lashley winning three NAIA titles and being an Olympic hopeful, and Lesnar winning an NCAA title. Before he became famous in the U.S., Alberto Rodriguez, better known as Alberto Del Rio, posted a 9-5 record in MMA, but he was also a highly rated Greco-Roman style wrestler in his youth.
Former WWE star Ryback recently legally changed his name from Ryan Alan Reeves to Ryback Alan Reeves, because after he was released by the WWE he was not allowed to use their trademarked name “Ryback”, so he legally changed his name to Ryback so he could use it on the independent circuit. Now it seems that Ryback may be the next professional wrestler to jump to a mixed martial arts career, as it has been confirmed that Ryback has been in negotiations with MMA promotion Bellator, although no deal has been signed yet. Ryback is probably working on getting a combination deal, which allows him to professionally wrestle in TNA while also fighting MMA fighting in Bellator, a similar deal to the one signed by former WWE star Bobby Lashley. Of course Lashley was legitimately a world class amateur wrestler, so the transition to MMA was easy, while Ryback has zero combat sports training whatsoever to our knowledge. Bellator likes putting on circus MMA fights to get ratings, and while Ryback is a large (6’2 290lbs) muscular guy who looks intimidating, he would not stand a chance inside the Bellator cage against a skilled martial artist with a legitimate combat sports background. Ryback should stick to professional wrestling, where he can look scary with his shirt off, and where the outcomes are predetermined. In a real fight, it does not matter how scary you look, when a skilled martial artist has your back and is strangling you.
As for opponents, there are some interesting names out there like fellow former pro wrestler Bobby Lashley or former NFL star Shawn Merriman who has been training MMA and has been in negotiations with Bellator as well.
P.S. No chance Ryback could pass a steroid test, right?