Mixed martial arts and pro wrestling could be called distant relatives in the combat sports family.
MMA is the gritty, hard-working youngster who is growing up fast. Pro wrestling could be thought of as the sly and comedic uncle who always has a big story, but never a ton of facts to back up any claims.
That’s not to say both aren’t entertaining. While MMA and pro wrestling each have massive fanbases in their own right, their schticks rarely mix well. Tito Ortiz and his soon-to-be opponent proved that at a recent meeting promoting their upcoming fight.
It’s nice that the Combate Americas promotion is getting some exposure. Promoting MMA to the Hispanic market is a great idea, but the upcoming clash they’re marketing is questionable, to say the least. It isn’t just that Tito Oritz is a decade past his prime, but he’s now facing off against Alberto Del Rio – the former WWE wrestler.
The two met in the cage to cut an odd-sounding promo that got about as much attention from the crowd as a lay-and-pray fest in the Octagon or a pointless squash match in the wrestling ring. While Ortiz still has some star power left, he’s by no means a big attraction these days.
His only recent wins are over Chael Sonnen in a controversial win, and Chuck Liddell – who, for the record, should’ve never came out of retirement. Ortiz’s opponent may be known for his WWE antics, but he does have MMA experience – just not a lot of success.
Del Rio holds an MMA record of 9-5, with his last fight being nine years ago. He lost that fight by TKO. He also competed in PRIDE during his younger years, falling to the legendary Mirko Cro Cop during the Croatian’s famous run to the top of the promotion.
Maybe the two figured they needed to do something like this in order to build excitement for their upcoming fight. However, it came off as campy and just awkward. It’s not unique to smaller promotions, either. Bigger promotions have also gotten some weird looks thanks to their ventures into pro wrestling territory.
There was the bizarre promo Stephan Bonnar cut in Bellator MMA, where he unmasked a former training partner. This segment also involved Ortiz – seriously Tito, what’s the deal? Not even the UFC is immune, as Brock Lesnar cut a WWE promo on Daniel Cormier after Cormier’s world title victory before challenging him to a fight. The fight would never materialize, and would only serve to hold up the division.
What will a victory against Del Rio do for Ortiz, other than help him collect a paycheck? Even if Del Rio pulls off the upset, he’s beating a man who is way past his prime in a promotion that few people know about. It’s a weird situation, but it’s the main event, nonetheless.
Who will win when a former UFC light heavyweight champion at the end of his run takes on a former WWE star returning to MMA?