WrestlingINC.com: You have been training MMA with Josh Barnett, is that something that you have been interested in for awhile?
Smith: Yeah. I dabbled in it a little bit like five years ago or so, before I signed with WWE. I met Josh Barnett at a show in Seattle, Washington where he was living at the time. We were both wresting in New Japan at the same time, but we were on different tours at the time and they were using him for big shows and they were starting to use him less frequently right as I was coming in. We were never on the same tours, but I was kind of interested in it and I did quite a bit of amateur wrestling before so he invited me down.
I had started taking some Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and Josh opened up my eyes to a world of submission wrestling, catch wrestling, leg locks, neck cranks, slams, suplexes, you know? I thought it was really, really cool. So I would say after that I got interested in it and was just kind of wowed but it. This guy was just highly, highly skilled and I was just like geez! Then after that, I kind of got interested in training with jiu-jitsu. I mean, I would dabble a little with muay-thai kick boxing, but it would just be a practice here and there. As time went on, I started training with it more and just kind of got more interested in it. A lot of people wanted me to start entering grappling tournaments, but unfortunately with WWE's contract I couldn't do that, but I can now [laughs].
WrestlingINC.com: Is that something you see yourself doing in the future? Do you see yourself competing in MMA?
Smith: Yeah, I would like to give it a try. Things just doesn't happen overnight because I didn't do a lot of striking training before. As soon as I got released, Batista opened up an MMA school in Tampa and then he bought down a good MMA coach, Josh Rafferty, and then I started training a lot of stand-up. This is about 5 or 6 months of the training. So I would say overall to become a good mixed martial artist and to get all the skills ready to start fighting, I think that it takes about two years.
Not to say that I couldn't start fighting amateur fights right now. It's kind of the same thing as pro wrestling, to get the body and the central nervous system, everything to be done as far as reaction times, where the body knows before you have to think about it. Learning about distances with striking, about footwork and movement and a whole bunch of things. So, I would like to eventually, but it's just going to take a bit more time. I would think eventually yes, but no exact planned date or anything like that. It takes time, like even when [Brock] Lesnar left WWE in 2004, or was that 2003? I don't think he had his first fight until 2007 or something that. I know he played around with football for awhile after that, but it takes a couple of years.
WrestlingINC.com: When you teamed with Bobby Lashley last fall in Japan for IGF [Inoki Genome Federation], did he have any pointers or anything?
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