TJP recently made his return to Impact Wrestling after spending three years in WWE, but Perkins also has his sights set on another promotion albeit in the world of MMA. Perkins received an offer to fight in Bellator and he explained how it came about when he spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast.
“I kinda had the same reaction that everyone else did,” Perkins said of getting the offer. “Your guess is as good as mine. It was around my birthday week where I was in between travel and my manager forwarded me this offer. It’s probably the most out-of-left-field offer I’ve gotten since I was asked to do a Bar Mitzvah after I left WWE.”
As for that Bar Mitzvah, TJP said it was amazing as the kid was an inspiring pro gamer so they rented out an entire gaming arena.
TJP wouldn’t be blindly stepping into the cage as he does have some MMA experience although he doesn’t boast it that often.
“It’s not something that I talk about a lot because it doesn’t seem to be totally relevant. My heart’s never really been in MMA so I can see why people think this is out of left field. But I can fight a little bit and I started training back when I was being recruited by New Japan. Before they sent me to The Dojo in Tokyo, I started out in Los Angeles and it was more or less an MMA thing; we did zero pro wrestling,” said TJP who added that he’s trained with Josh Barnett, Rui Machida and Herb Dean.
“We would get a lot of guys from Shark Tank or the Raw Center in LA that were in camp. They would hold their camp at our facilities so most of my early training was getting my ass kicked by those guys.”
Perkins then talked about the fighting styles that he is most familiar with.
“For the most part it’s muay thai and BJJ (Brazilian jiu-jitsu). That’s pretty much what we did everyday and we had different coaches who came in and work with us like Ken Shamrock,” revealed TJP. “We had a stand-up boxing coach who, for a while and before I debuted in Japan, he was trying to talk me out of doing wrestling, not because I was an excellent boxer but because of my age, potential and athleticism. He wanted me to go into boxing and take me into the Olympics and do amateur stuff from there.”
TJP was then asked about the issues he was discussing with Bellator before a potential fight.
“Initially, like anybody else, I saw the fun in it. It’s not something I ever wanted to do professionally as my heart wasn’t into it at 17-18. I had a lot of people tugging me in that direction but I always wanted to stick with pro wrestling,” stated TJP. “But it’s fun thinking of the offer. I still train and I spar and roll all the time so the idea of getting in and doing something I enjoy in that setting sounds like a lot of fun.
“But the adult in me kicked in and I had to think about other details with it.”
One of the details was the timing of the fight as it was on very short notice and would’ve been after just eight weeks of training. Another detail was the weight issue as it was a bit too high for him and was one-two classes ahead of him.
“I’d have to gain to get to what they were looking at. It was 170 or above initially and I would probably be a 155 guy if I was at a fight weight and probably training,” said Perkins.
He then added that he still doesn’t know how Bellator knew to approach him for a fight and they actually reached out to his manager instead of him directly. He supposes that all of the various people he works with, such as producers, may have gotten into the ears of someone at Bellator.
Jack Swagger made the successful transition from pro wrestling to MMA recently and Perkins was asked if he’s heard from Swagger.
“I don’t really know him that well, just met him a few times. Mostly I just speak to some of my old coaches like Barnett and some of my old grappling coaches,” said TJP.
A loss in MMA would not only hurt Perkins in the minds of MMA fans, but it would also likely affect him in the minds of pro wrestling fans. He was asked how much he thinks about that with wrestling being his day job.
“I don’t know. That’s one of the things I’d think more about after the fact?Pro wrestling is gonna always be my career. In a way that [Manny] Pacquiao has to manage being a senator and fight, for me pro wrestling is always gonna be 100 percent,” stated TJP. “If I do anything else, whether it’s fighting or acting, I have to find time for wrestling as this is the busiest window of my career.”
As for possible taking a loss in MMA, Perkins said there are a lot people that would like to see him get dropped in wrestling, so they wouldn’t mind seeing him dropped, legitimately, in MMA.
As a cruiserweight/X-Division guy, TJP isn’t the first wrestler many would imagine as potentially being a legit MMA fighter as well. But he and some of his coaches see this as an interesting opportunity that doesn’t come around that often. Perkins admitted that some people don’t even see MMA as a true sport and is instead just violence, but since he’s going through training and tapping out every day during training, he says it would be more fun to do that on a bigger stage.
Perkins just turned 35 years old so if he wants to go into MMA, now is the time to do so. He was asked how long he’s giving himself to decide if he wants to fight.
“I don’t think there’s a window where it ends. I just think that scheduling and then weight will be the biggest hurdles,” said TJP. “Once I realized what weight bracket I would really be in because pro wrestling weights are inflated.”
Wrestling Inc’s Nick Hausman then brought up the weights of Superstars on 205 Live to which TJP responded, “We did have real weigh-ins which was funny and we also had people failing those weigh-ins which was funny as well.
“But in this case, once both sides settle on what weight I need to be at, it made it a little further as far as the gap. And then financially too – finding the right deal that would make sense for both sides because what would be a great offer for an MMA fighter on the card placement that I may be at may not make as much sense for me because I make differently as a pro wrestler.”
TJP added that at 35 it’s hard to take five months off from your wrestling career in order to train for MMA and that decisions would be a lot easier if he was 10 years younger.
TJP’s full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of a recent episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post. In it TJP discusses Bellator’s recent offer to him, his fight training background, the MMA legends he’s trained with, if he’s interested in more than one fight, how a loss could affect his pro wrestling career, Anthem becoming the majority stakeholder of AXS TV and more.