While many athletes have crossed over between pro wrestling and MMA, the sports require two different responses to pain. Wrestlers are taught to over-exaggerate their reactions to pain while MMA fighters are conditioned to hide whatever pain they may feel.
Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell discussed the differing reactions to pain when he joined The Wrestling Inc Daily podcast.
“It’s totally opposite as your reaction is to hide anything,” Liddell said of MMA. “I don’t want you to know that I’m in pain. I’m not gonna go, ‘Uhhhh’ as if I do that, I’m dead. You’re gonna see it and you’re gonna go after it.”
Liddell’s name has been brought up numerous times when people talk about MMA fighters that could successfully cross over into pro wrestling. He was asked if he’s ever had any wrestling training.
“No, but now looking back, I had some opportunities and probably could have done it. But I never got around to it because I was always doing something. Maybe one day I’ll go take one of these guys I know and have them take me through a session just for fun. That could be kinda fun,” stated Liddell.
The film Cagefighter features Liddell, Christian and Jon Moxley. Liddell was asked what he thought of Moxley as a legitimate fighter.
“I didn’t get to see him do any bag work. Just seeing him moving around and punching around the ring, he’s probably not going to fight Josh Barnett anytime soon,” stated Liddell. “But he’s an athlete and is very professional. If you’re an athlete and have got a chin, with time I could teach him how to fight. But you’ve gotta take the time to do that.”
While Moxley’s chances of crossing over between pro wrestling and MMA appear slim, Liddell is inspired by guys who transition between MMA and another sport.
“For me, I was really impressed with the guys who went back and forth between kickboxing and MMA. Because for me, it took me a couple of months to get my timing back when moving from one to the other,” admitted Liddell who added that going back and forth between wrestling and MMA would be tough because of the displaying of pain requirements.
“When training for a fight, a lot of the stuff is just mental toughness. It’s training, repetition and a habit almost. Not showing pain ? you don’t have to think about it as you just don’t do it. When someone hurts you with a shot, you don’t go, ‘Uhhhh.’ You try not to show it because it’s natural for you as you do it all the time. I don’t know how that would mess it up going back and forth,” said Liddell.
“I’m not saying it’s impossible but for me it would be strange? When you’re at the top level, slightly different timings make a big difference.”
Someone who has transitioned from MMA to wrestling is Cain Velasquez and Liddell was asked if he saw any of his work in the ring.
“I saw pictures of it but I didn’t actually get to see it. But he’s an athlete and can do just about anything. He can get hyped but he’s not a big fan of attention and didn’t like all of the attention he got from being a fighter,” revealed Liddell. “That did actually shock me when they told me he was gonna do pro wrestling. I was like, ‘Wait? He’s gonna do what?’ He doesn’t like the PR and the attention.
“He’s a great guy and he can do anything he wants. But that surprised me a little bit… When I saw it, I was like, ‘Cain?!'”
MMA is one of the few sports still pushing forward during the coronavirus pandemic with the UFC recently resuming no-crowd shows. Liddell was asked what he thought of Dana White and the UFC still operating at this time.
“I think it’s great. If guys wanna fight and they’re offered a fight, then let them do it. For the most part, these aren’t the guys you’re worried about getting COVID-19,” said Liddell. “A guy was a day away from fighting and he came up positive but he had no idea and no symptoms. It sounds like guys in these guys’ shape, it seems that they don’t get hit as hard.”
Chuck Liddell stars in Cagefighter which made its international debut on FITE.tv earlier this month. Chuck’s full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it’s released Monday – Friday afternoon by clicking here.