Anthony Henry talks to Fightful about his MMA background.
Before Anthony Henry became one of the top wrestlers in EVOLVE and on the Independent circuit, he competed in amateur and professional MMA bouts. Henry got a chance to really show off his MMA background this past September at GCW Josh Barnett's Bloodsport II. Bloodsport is a combination of wrestling/MMA where bouts take place in a no roped ring and can only end by (T)KO or submission
Speaking to Fightful, Henry discussed how he ended up taking part in the hybrid event.
"I'm a fan of the 'shoot style.' It's pretty well known that I come from a MMA background and I had amateur fights and pro fights before giving up that part of my career. [Bloodsport] is a natural fit for me. They were putting together their next event and I know I was recommended by a few people. I got hit up and I sent my stuff to [GCW promoter] Brett Lauderdale and he sent it over to Josh Barnett. Josh is very in control of [the event]. He wanted to make sure everybody on the event had some legitimacy to them. He viewed my footage and from there, I got added on," he said.
Henry picked up a victory over Zachary Wentz by submission at Bloodsport. GCW recently announced Josh Barnett's Bloodsport will return as part of The Collective during WrestleMania 36 weekend. Henry is hoping to be part of the event.
As far as who he would like to face, Henry had one legend in mind.
"If I had the opportunity to choose who I was in there with, I would love to go in there with someone like [Kazushi] Sakuraba. Some of my early memories of watching MMA was getting the PRIDE DVDs and being amazed by Sakuraba and the entertainment and showman factor added to his fights. He's a legend," he said. "If you think about Sakuraba, in his prime, he was undersized for the division he was fighting in. He was fighting guys like Wanderlei Silva who probably out-weighed him by 25-30 pounds. Once the skill has leveled out, size and other factors come into play. Sakuraba doesn't have the best win-loss record, but he was competitive against guys who were bigger than him."
Barnett was able to secure MMA cult legend Ikuhisa "Minowaman" Minowa for the September event. No names have been announced for the event in April 2020. With the crossover of MMA and wrestling being what it is nowadays, Henry explained how he went from MMA to wrestling and why more fans are beginning to accept the MMA aspects of wrestling.
"I would get UFC videos and WWE videos and watch them together. I knew [UFC] was real and [WWE] was staged, but for me, it was all the same. I enjoyed both. It's a natural evolution for some of these guys to get involved in pro wrestling. They're not that dissimilar. If you watch MMA, most of them are cutting promos like wrestlers. There's an entertainment component that you can't deny. They're not so foreign from each other. With people being so exposed to MMA, we now know an armbar is an armbar, a choke is a choke. Those elements are also involved in pro wrestling now. It's a good thing that we have those components added in," he said.
Along with Henry, former MMA fighters who have enjoyed success in wrestling include Matt Riddle, Shayna Baszler, Ronda Rousey, and more. In a separate part of Fightful's interview with Henry, he explained that joining Riddle and Baszler in WWE remains the goal for him. You can view his full comments by clicking here.