MVP discusses his history with grappling and the world of MMA, and how he almost ended up in a Bellator fight with Kimbo Slice.
Throughout his near 24 year career in the professional wrestling industry, MVP has truly been a jack of all trades. The former WWE United States Champion has been a in-ring performer, a road agent, and a manager, and as it turns out, MVP also has a history with other parts of the combat sports world.
In a new interview with Fightful, MVP went into his previous history with grappling and how it led to him becoming a brown belt.
"I’ve always been a fan of grappling and wrestling. I wrestled briefly amateur in junior high school before I started getting in trouble. As a fan of professional wrestling, Norman Smiley was one of my early mentors. Also a state wrestling champion and a legitimate grappler. I was a huge fan of the Japanese style. So I always appreciated the three-quarter shoot style of wrestling. When I finished up in Japan, I took a year off from pro wrestling. I just wanted to recharge my batteries so to speak. I made a decision one day, I was driving past a [greasy Baja school] and I said, ‘Today’s the day.’ I walked in, signed up and all these years later I’m a [greasy Baja] brown belt under André Santos. Well, he moved. So now it’s Kurt Zettlemoyer, GB Champions, Houston Texas, IBJJF. A few years ago, as a purple belt, I won the World Championship Masters. I’m hoping I can get my injuries sorted out so I can compete again this year at brown belt, hopefully."
MVP also went on to discuss the time that he almost had a fight in Bellator.
"So, interesting. When Dave Batista had his fight, the guy who ran his fight camp, Josh Rafferty.The reason Josh is able to do that is because I think Josh has like five black belts. Judo, karate, jiu-jitsu, he’s been a martial artist his whole life. He is beat up. He’s got some serious neck issues. So something he figured out was how to work with professional wrestlers who are banged up. So as a trainer, he puts together the best training regimen for guys who are banged up. He’s gotten really good at that. He and I became really good friends and he was encouraging me to take a fight. He’s like, ‘C’mon, man. Just one fight, just one fight.’ I was like, ‘Ah, man, I’m getting a little too old to be elbowed in the face.’ But Kimbo Slice was a good friend of mine. We came up together on South Beach. We used to work together. When he started enjoying his success and I was enjoying mine, we’d check in on each other. I remember one time at American Airlines in Miami, I brought him backstage and his boys got to meet the Undertaker. Real cool thing. We were always real proud of each other. One day when he was fighting in Houston, I was in the back when we were talking. He said, ‘Man, I know you’ve been doing a lot of jiu-jitsu and what not, have you thought about taking a fight?’ I said, ‘I’ve contemplated it.’ We were joking around, but the joking became, ‘Yo, man, we should fight.’ I said, ‘You think so, man?’ He’s like, ‘Well, if you train, I’m sure we could get a fight at Bellator.’ We were laughing because we said,
for sure, the fight would be promoted not as two guys that hate each other. We were real cool, we were friends. But we knew with absolute certainty that either he was gonna knock me out or I would tap him out. The fight could only end in one way. It wouldn’t be a decision at all. I’d be unconscious or he would tap. But unfortunately he succumbed to an untimely death due to heart issues. So we’ll never know and that’s something that I’m glad I never had to find out, actually. But if they had put enough money on the table..."
Fightful also went on to ask MVP if he has ever got to do any grappling with Bobby Lashley, who had a run with Bellator in the 2010s.
"A little bit, yeah. Lashley just moved to Texas, so he’s only a few hours away. He left Colorado. He’s just near Dallas now. I’ve been talking about trying to compete again this year. I’ve wrestled with Shelton quite a bit. Shelton’s ridiculous. So I was saying in my pursuit of getting back on the mats coming off some injuries that I’ve had that I wanted to utilize having Bobby and Shelton to help improve my wrestling to compliment my jiu-jitsu grappling and hopefully take another crack at a gold medal."
Elsewhere in the interview, MVP discussed his signature I'm Comin' theme song and how he didn't like it at first. Fans can find more information by clicking here.
Fans can see Fightful's full interview with MVP linked above.