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Former WWE Champion Batista earning praise from Gracie camp

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Former WWE star Dave Batista appears to be serious about mixed martial arts.

The four-time World Heavyweight Champion and two-time WWE Champion is in Northern California training with the Cesar Gracie camp for a two-day stint, Sherdog.com reports.

Gracie was impressed by what he saw from Batista, calling him a "natural athlete." Batista worked with former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields and Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz on Wednesday.

"He's got a lot to learn but his strength alone is impressive," Gracie told Sherdog.com Wednesday evening. "Obviously he's a beginner at jiu-jitsu but we can take a guy like that that's already a strong athlete like that and teach him what to not get caught in."

"He's a pretty good kicker," said Gracie. "He hits very hard."

Batista, who was once reported to have signed with Strikeforce, currently is in negotiations with them, the report says.

Gracie said it will depends on the opponent when asked when Batista would be ready for a pro fight.

"You're talking about a guy who is very powerful, very strong and an extremely hard worker, and if he can put it all together he could be a very formidable force," he said. "And he's at the right camp for that... Our camp is known for bringing people with nothing and making them into something. We like to make champs."

It will be interesting to see if Batista can make the transition to MMA. If he training with a serious camp like Cesar Gracie, that certainly helps, but one thing that concerns me from watching him in professional wrestling is that he always has been injury prone throughout his career. He's torn both biceps and has been forced to vacate a world title twice because of injury while in WWE. Reports vary about his age, but he is certainly over 40 years old (most peg him at 41) and it wouldn't be a complete shock if his body simply couldn't handle the intense training that is required for an MMA fight. One thing going for him in that department, though, is that he won't be carrying as much muscle mass as he did in WWE, so that could possibly lessen the strain on his body.