Ryan Reeves, better known from his WWE days as Ryback, recently appeared on X1075 in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he said that he’s open to the idea of doing an MMA fight, and he revealed that he’s currently in talks with Bellator MMA.
Much like fellow former WWE star CM Punk, who made his UFC debut earlier this month at UFC 203, Ryback has no professional or amateur MMA experience, but, three months ago, “The Big Guy” revealed that he just started doing jiu-jitsu via an Instagram post.
Unlike Punk though, Ryback has yet to join a world-class MMA team, and if he has, he hasn’t made it public yet. He does have a ton of options though, as he’s currently living in Las Vegas, which is where Syndicate MMA and Xtreme Couture are located, among others.
Ryback was officially released by WWE back in August, although he had left the company long beforehand due to a contract dispute. In short, “The Big Guy” wasn’t happy with his pay, and on top of that, he felt that WWE should cover all of his, and every other WWE superstars’ road expenses, including hotels, rental cars, and airfare.
Since being released, Ryback has worked on a couple of independent shows, and, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, he’s been charging indy promoters $4,500 per appearance. As of this writing, Ryback still hasn’t exclusively signed with any of WWE’s direct competitors.
Ryback, who will turn 35 in November, has been involved in professional wrestling for over a decade, and he’s been somewhat injury prone during that time. His most significant injury was a broken ankle which required three operations to repair.
Just because Ryback and Bellator are in talks doesn’t mean that they’ll be able to come to an agreement, as “The Big Guy” is probably demanding a pretty big pay day. Of course, Bellator doesn’t have a problem doing freakshow fights, so it’s no surprise to hear that they’re going after a former WWE guy, and if they’re able to sign him, they’ll probably be able to find someone who has the same amount of experience as him, which is virtually none, to fight him in his MMA debut.
There’s a chance that the UFC will end up cutting CM Punk, and as most pro wrestling fans know, there’s some very real issues between Punk and Ryback, which Punk talked about on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast. Punk’s most famous Ryback-related insult is when he referred to him as “steroid guy.” He also said that during their various feuds in WWE, Ryback injured him on purpose, and never apologized to him for doing so.
If the UFC releases Punk, then Bellator will swoop him up. Will they do a Punk vs. Ryback fight if they’re able to sign them both? Probably. Of course, the biggest challenge they’ll face if they try to put that fight together would be the weight difference – CM Punk fought in the UFC at 170 pounds, and Ryback would, without question, fight at heavyweight. In his pro wrestling days, Punk’s walking around weight was in the 220s, which would make him a heavyweight. Could he get back up to that weight? Sure. Will he though? Probably not.
If we’re talking about ex-WWE stars who could end up fighting Ryback if he signs with Bellator, there are two that come to mind: Dave Bautista and Alberto Del Rio.
Bautista, who has been out of WWE for two years now, is a regular jiu-jitsu practitioner, and he also has some pro MMA experience, as he has a professional record of 1-0.
Del Rio, who was just recently released by WWE, has a professional MMA record of 9-5, and while he hasn’t expressed interest in fighting again, he may be interested in fighting Ryback if Bellator comes to an agreement with “The Big Guy.”
[Featured image via WWE]