With reports stating that former WWE wrestler Dave Batista is putting serious time and effort into training MMA, it seems that Strikeforce is giving serious consideration to signing the former "Heavyweight Champion of the World." Many will decry such a move if it ever comes to fruition, but is it really such a mistake?
In January, Strikeforce held their infamous Miami show that featured bouts involving Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker and another former pro-wrestler, Bobby Lashley. What having those two on the card meant was that people normally indifferent to MMA were attracted to a card featuring Nick Diaz, Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, and the classic Melvin Manhoef/Robbie Lawler brawl. The card drew 571,000 viewers on Showtime, an increase of 51% over the network's previous Strikeforce show that featured a Fight of the Year contender with the Gilbert Melendez/Josh Thomson headliner. That additional 176,000 viewers is certainly nothing to scoff at, especially for a premium cable channel.
Now, if Strikeforce could maneuver Batista and Walker onto the same card, they very well could find themselves on CBS once more. Walker has expressed his desire to compete again later this year and by late fall Batista would would have had a good few months at Team Cesar Gracie under his belt. Batista, though not a legend of professional wrestling by any means, was a far greater star than Lashley ever was. Having him compete in MMA on free television would be very enticing to WWE fans that have yet to cross over. Couple that with the common sports fans' love of Herschel Walker and the card is certain to do well in ratings. Dare I say, if they could get Kimbo Slice to face Herschel Walker, it would be the most watched MMA card of all time.
It's the prime opportunity to showcase some of their legitimate talent. Imagine a five-fight main card that looks something like this:
Alistair Overeem vs. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva
Nick Diaz vs. Jayson "Mayhem" Miller
Dan Henderson vs. Gegard Mousasi
Dave Batista vs. Bobby Lashley
Herschel Walker vs. Kimbo Slice
To catch the big fish, you've got to have bait. And with names like Herschel, Batista, and Kimbo that will draw a broad spectrum of viewers, this could just be the prime opportunity to capitalize off the notorious nature of the "freakshow fight."