Kurt Angle Says He Almost Joined the UFC; Now Aiming for 2012 Olympics

August 31, 2011
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Kurt Angle

Kurt Angle.

It’s a name in a lot of circles that people associate with one of the most famous pro wrestlers of the last 20 years.

To others, Angle is known as the 1996 Gold Medal winner for the United States Olympic team in wrestling.

What some people may not know is that Angle, on a few different occasions, has flirted with the idea of moving into the world of mixed martial arts.

Following the 1996 Olympics, Angle returned home from the Atlanta games and started to map out the next stage of his life. According to the former Clarion University wrestler, the road forked in two major directions. One pointed towards MMA and the other lead towards a career in professional wrestling.

“Right after the Olympics, I had the chance,” Angle told MMAWeekly Radio about the chance to do MMA. “Was I going to go into pro wrestling or the UFC? I talked to the UFC, but at the time they were only paying their top fighters 15 grand to fight, and here WWE throws this big contract at me. It’s kind of like, let me see, do I struggle and go in the UFC or do I go here and make a bunch of money? Obviously, the decision was very easy.

“Then when the UFC started to become popular, I started to say ‘oh boy, I really should have done that. I don’t know why I didn’t do that. That’s more my cup of tea,’ and then when I was getting ready to make the switch in 2003, I broke my neck.”

Angle had neck surgery in 2003 to repair nerve and spinal damage, as well as other existing problems, and following his recovery, he went back to the WWE where he stayed until 2006.

Eventually, Angle ended up with TNA wrestling where he continues to work now. His goals, however, have shifted a bit over the last several months.

Angle’s passion for wrestling never really went away, but with the 2012 Olympics just around the corner, the former gold medalist started to feel that hunger inside him to compete again. Now in full training mode, Angle’s goal isn’t just to make it onto the U.S. Olympic team, but to reach medal status once again.

“I’ve been training for five months. I contacted USA Wrestling. By the end of the year, I will probably be out at the Olympic training center for periods of time. Their concern was ‘Kurt, are you really doing this? We need you out here because if you make the team, God willing, we want you to medal,'” Angle stated.

“So they know I’m making a very serious approach at this, and if I do make the team and I do beat the guys in my weight class, they want to make sure I’m ready to medal.”

Before his training for wrestling got back into full swing, Angle landed a role in the upcoming MMA film “Warrior,” in which he plays an undefeated Russian middleweight named “Koba.” Once he was cast in the role, Angle really enjoyed training and participating in MMA drills, even if they were scripted for film.

It was then that Angle flashed back to more than a decade ago when he made that pivotal choice to go into pro wrestling instead of MMA. He says he picked up the phone and called UFC president Dana White and discussed a possible turn back to the world of professional fighting.

“I actually contacted Dana White again after the movie. I flew out to meet him once and got a great offer. I contacted him again, I was thinking about dropping out of Impact wrestling, and there were some personal problems with my marriage and I just wanted to get away. I contacted Dana White, I flew out, and he had me take the UFC physical. I passed it, thank God, and he gave me the offer,” Angle stated.

“The terms weren’t good, I mean not for me, and the terms I gave him weren’t good for him. He wanted me ready in four-and-a-half weeks; I wanted three to six months. So I respect Dana White and I love him to death, very good friend. I knew I was capable of winning in four-and-a-half weeks, but I wanted to be at my best.”

While he was unavailable for direct comment about Kurt Angle, White did respond on Twitter when asked if he made the former Olympian an offer. He tweeted, “love Kurt, but not true.”

Angle, however, didn’t budge in his version of the story that he was close to terms with the UFC just recently. Whatever happened, Angle obviously didn’t sign or decide to move into MMA, and will try his hand at the Olympics instead.

If Angle is successful in making the Olympic team, he will go into the 2012 games at 43 years of age. Still, Angle won’t let age be a factor, and when the Olympics are over, can he say with absolute certainty that he wouldn’t once again consider a run at MMA?

“That remains to be seen. Depending on how good I do, I can’t say no,” Angle admitted. “Obviously, it’s going to raise Dana White’s eyebrows. He actually sat me down and said, ‘Kurt, if you do this, is your neck okay? Are you well enough to do this, cause I know you’ve taken a pounding the last 10 years?’ and I said, ‘Dana, I’m fine. Yeah, I broke my neck five different times, but I have never felt better than now. I’ve had setbacks, but I’m fine.’

“I can’t tell you till that time comes, but I tell you what, even making the USA team, the top two or three, it would raise Dana White’s eyebrows. My goal is to make the team. If you make the team in the United States, you have more than a better shot of medaling.”

Angle also doesn’t discount staying with his family at TNA wrestling or maybe even making a shift to Bellator Fighting Championships, who he says will end up on Spike TV at some point in the near future. Spike TV also broadcasts TNA wrestling on the network.

“Who knows? Let’s see what happens,” Angle said. “I’m not counting out Bellator either. They’re going to be on Spike soon and you never know what’s going to happen with that company, they could flourish. The way Spike promoted the UFC, they could do the same for them.”

With “Warrior” set to be released on Sept. 9, Angle may have a refueled passion for MMA, but he still knows his best days ahead will see him in front of the camera acting, but not necessarily as a professional wrestler.

“My long-term goal is to be an actor. That’s why having the opportunity to be in an incredible movie like ‘Warrior’ is a plus for me, because I think a lot of people are going to watch it,” said Angle. “There’s going to be a lot of directors and producers that watch it. There’s going to be a lot of casting agents that are going to watch it.”

“Warrior” opens nationwide on Sept. 9. The U.S. Olympic wrestling trials will be held in Iowa City, Iowa, in April 2012, to determine the team that will go to London for the 2012 Olympics. Will Kurt Angle be on the roster? He thinks so.

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  • BigGuy

    I actually believe Dana on this one. As usual, Angle is full of shit. Still, I would love to see him make it to the UFC so he could get his ass beaten! Just being a wrestler doesn’t cut it in the world of MMA. I have no idea what his fighting credentials are, but the reality is this is not WWE fighting, and it isn’t as easy as it looks.

    • ShockednAwed

      Well back in ’96, when he was the heavyweight Olympic gold medalist, he might have had a chance at giving it a go… I remember wrestling dirt sheets at the time saying he and Brock would have actual wrestling matches, and that Kurt could more than hold his own. Obviously, there are other skills he’d have needed to incorporate, but back then he really did have that passion to succeed, was younger and healthier, and maybe he could have picked it up. But not today! 😀

      • wonggfan

        Go look this up. THere was a gold medalist in the UFC a long time ago. I forgot his name. But he got submitted by Frank Shamrock (who I don’t even think wrestled in college) in the first round.

        I could see Angle back in 96 doing well in the UFC. Elite wrestlers like Coleman and Randleman were UFC champs and had a good career in Pride. But MMA does not equal wrestling.

        Elite wrestlers have this mentality where they think they could just take anyone down, obtain control, and G&P the fuck out of them.

        But what if you get punched in the face before you go for that takedown? What if the takedown doesn’t work because strikers like Chuck or Cro Cop starts developing good takedown defense? And what if you get submitted while on top by BJJ guys?

        • ShockednAwed

          Totally agreed.

        • thai plum sauce

          Kevin Jackson: freestyle gold medalist.

  • wonggfan

    What weight class would this dude fight at? LHW? Then he will lose his muscles…no?

    Kurt is delusional if he thinks he has a shot at the title in MMA.

    He would either get KOed or subbed in the first round.

    • ShockednAwed

      Here, check this out…


      It’s Angle, back in the WWE, challenging that year’s batch of TuffEnuff contenders to step into the ring. What he didn’t know, was that one guy, Daniel Pruder, had a black belt in BJJ. So he should have realized back then that, when he didn’t make the jump in ’96, he’d turned his back on MMA for life. 😀

      The ref saves Angle’s embarrassment with a hasty three count – I dunno ’bout you, but I don’t think Danny’s shoulders are even on the mat… 😀

  • ShockednAwed

    Poor Kurt… I wonder if he’s so delusional that he believes what he’s saying, or if he knows he’s a liar?

    This guy was a legend-in-the-making – now, not so much. DUIs, ugly, angry Tweets (which he then denies posting), documented problems with prescription drugs he denies… shit, dude, you dropped the ball. And instead of simply picking it up again (everyone fucks up, everyone forgives), you try to make excuses about it.

    I’d love to see actual comments from the US Olympic wrestling higher-ups on what they think his chances would be in the trials. Gotta believe they won’t remember saying, “If you make the team, God willing…” much like Dana isn’t able to recall making any kind of offer to Kurt.

  • Mario

    The Kurt Angle in that photo, maybe could try out for MMA.

    But have any of you actually seen this guy lately?

    I don’t watch wrestling, fake and lame, but I have seen glimpses of him during those TNT wrestling shows.

    The guy looks old now. Gray hair and everything. Not to mention he seems to have lost a bit of muscle.

    Kurt at this point wouldn’t cut in the UFC, let alone Mixed Martial Arts.

    I don’t see him him getting Submitted. What I do see him is getting TKO’d rather easily.

  • Mario

    @ ShockednAwed

    Wow. That was GOLD!

    The announcer is so stupid, too. It’s funny when you think about it. He’s like trying to say it as if the UFC is fake and not on the same level as some fake wrestler? LOL!

    When in reality, it’s the complete opposite. That faggot ass ref saved him. Kurt Angle is a bitch! That Daniel guy, he actually fought in Strikeforce I think?

    Whatever happened to him?

    • ShockednAwed

      In the interest of full disclosure, I’m actually a fan of wrestling too… I know, I know, it’s my man-soap… and I’m pretty sure Lawler and Cole (the commentators) knew full well what was going on – but they’re paid to put over the stars, not the juniors hoping for a spot at the bottom of the roster.

      But Puder certainly made Angle look the bitch to anyone in-the-know, and you are correct, he had four Strikeforce fights, and currently boasts an 8-0 MMA record.

      You can currently catch his act in the Land of the Rising Sun, where he performs for New Japan Pro Wrestling. 😀

      • ShockednAwed

        My bad, Tazz on commentary… forgot he once worked for the ‘good’ wrestling company.