As the UFC has grown over the last few years, tons of professional wrestlers — Undertaker, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and, of course, CM Punk — have expressed their love for the sport of mixed martial arts. In fact, all of the aforementioned names, excluding CM Punk, who is currently training for his UFC debut, admitted that they would’ve pursued a career in MMA if the sport was as big as it is now back when they were in their physical prime.
Almost every top guy in wrestling has admitted that they’re huge fans of mixed martial arts, specifically the UFC. But there is one WWE star who is making it clear that he’s not a fan of the sport, and that’s former 15-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion John Cena.
Earlier this week, John Cena appeared on Larry King Now, and while he admits that he has a great deal of respect for the UFC and its fighters, and what the organization has done, he says that the sport itself just doesn’t resonate with him.
“[UFC] has done great at establishing itself as a brand. But in comparison with us, it doesn’t resonate with me just because I’m a storyteller and I enjoy the story we can tell in the ring. And like I say, I think we do it better than everyone. UFC truly has marketed itself extremely well. It has fantastic exposure and there is no denying the athletic ability that it takes to step into the Octagon. It’s not something I could do. I’m not taking anything away from anyone in UFC because their success speaks for itself. But as far as it resonating with me, it’s just not something I’m a fan of.”
Fellow WWE star Randy Orton had a similar explanation to Cena’s when he revealed why he wasn’t a fan of the Ultimate Fighting Championship during an interview with Sirius XM’s Sam Roberts back in the summer of 2013.
Again, Cena and Orton aren’t trying to take a shot at the UFC as an organization, or its fighters. Their point is just that the story that’s told inside a wrestling ring resonates with them far more than what happens inside UFC’s Octagon.
Shortly after his abrupt departure from WWE in January of 2014, new UFC signee CM Punk told various media outlets that there are several WWE superstars who would like to pursue a career in mixed martial arts. But it’s clear that both John Cena and Randy Orton have no interest in stepping inside the Octagon.
Some pro wrestlers, other than CM Punk, have made the decision to leave professional wrestling in favor of an MMA career. Some guys, like Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley, have done it successfully. Other guys, like Dave Bautista, better known to WWE fans as Batista, just wanted to dip their toes in the water and have one fight.
Guys like Bill Goldberg and Kurt Angle have entertained the idea of fighting over the last decade or so, and both of them have even come close to signing deals with a few major combat sports organizations. But those deals fell through due to money or timing issues.
At this point, it does seem like Goldberg will never fight. As for Angle, it does seem unlikely, but he has said that he would consider fighting someone like Ken Shamrock, Kimbo Slice, or Royce Gracie in Bellator. So, a Kurt Angle MMA fight is, at least, still a possibility.
Even though the majority of wrestling’s top guys have caught the UFC bug, both John Cena and Randy Orton have been able to avoid it, and have been able to stay focused on their respective professional wrestling careers.
[Image via Rob Kim / Getty Images]