Just imagine Shinsuke Nakamura with UFC gold around his waist.
The King of Strong Style almost parlayed his mixed martial arts training into a deal to fight for the UFC a decade ago, according to a recent interview with the Hindustan Times. Nakamura actually started his MMA career around the same time he made his pro wrestling debut, in 2002 in Japan. He got off to a hot start in both careers, becoming a star in New Japan Pro Wrestling and sprinting out to a 3-1 (1 no contest) record in MMA fights.
Then the UFC came calling:
“Around 2005, UFC offered me a chance to fight for them. But, at that moment, I was under contract with NJPW and I decided to stay in pro-wrestling. It was a good opportunity, but I don’t regret my choice.
“You have to understand that I am 37-year old now. It has been a long time since my last proper MMA training and although I still train in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, it will take me at least one year to be ready for a proper fight. That is not something I want to do as I am happy in WWE.”
Although it would have been cool to see Nakamura take on the best of the octagon in legit shootfights, the wrestling world is thankful for his presence. But if you’re curious, here’s some footage of him tapping out Alexey Ignashov with a forearm choke at a K-1 event in 2004.