In recent years, a number of notable former UFC standouts, including Ronda Rousey, Matt Riddle, and Cain Velasquez, made the jump to professional wrestling, with all three names eventually signing contracts with WWE. Much like those fighters, Stephan Bonnar has also tried his hand in the squared circle after a successful mixed martial arts career that included several years in UFC. He did, however, reveal in a recent interview why he thinks joining WWE wouldn’t be an option for him, at least at this point in his career.
Speaking on the most recent episode of Wrestling Inc.’s WINCLY podcast, Bonnar opened up about his budding wrestling career, noting that it feels strange to be called a “kid” at the age of 42 but also stressing that he’s “just getting started” after entering the world of sports entertainment in his early 40s. But when asked about whether he’d be interested in a stint with WWE, the “American Psycho” admitted that he has no plans of signing with a major promotion because he values the “freedom” he enjoys in the independent scene.
“Are you kidding me? I got fired from the UFC. I’m doing this for the freedom. My goal isn’t more fame, it’s freedom. If I can’t do whatever the f*ck I want, this it’s gonna be pretty hard to do it. Honestly, I’d get fired pretty quick from the WWE. So, I don’t have my hopes set on that.”
Talking about WWE’s recently launched rival, All Elite Wrestling, Bonnar said that the company has yet to reach out to him. He then reiterated his earlier point, explaining that he wants to focus on learning more about the “art” of professional wrestling and doesn’t want to be tied down to one specific promotion.
“Bruce Lee said that martial arts is expressing yourself freely and I think you can carry that to pro wrestling,” Bonnar continued. “I can express myself in the ring through pro wrestling matches and try to make this entertaining and learn this.”
Despite Bonnar’s apparent lack of interest in signing a contract with a major wrestling promotion such as WWE, recent history has shown that Vince McMahon’s company has been successful with its MMA crossovers. After signing with WWE last year, Rousey enjoyed a lengthy reign as Raw Women’s Champion and got a main-event spot at WrestleMania 35 this April, where she lost her title to Becky Lynch. Riddle, who competes on NXT, is one of the faster-rising stars on the black-and-gold brand, though the jury may still be out on Velasquez, who was reportedly booked to lose to fellow UFC alumnus Brock Lesnar in just two minutes at Crown Jewel due to injury concerns.