September 27, 2007

by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com

The worlds of MMA and professional wrestling have been crossing paths<br /> with increasing frequency lately with the talk of former

The worlds of MMA and professional wrestling have been crossing
paths with increasing frequency lately with the talk of former WWE superstar
Brock Lesnar negotiating with the UFC and TNA wrestler Kurt Angle’s interest in
the IFL.

One of the first successful fighters that spent time in the
pro wrestling arena, Daniel Puder, is set to actually fight this weekend at the
StrikeForce show on Saturday night at the Playboy Mansion.

Puder was the winner on the WWE reality series “Tough
Enough.” He was made famous when, during a match with the aforementioned Kurt
Angle, he applied a kimura shoulder lock, thus starting a natural rivalry
between the two. The chatter began immediately, comparing MMA with pro

Puder now competes in the heavyweight division for
Stirkeforce. With an undefeated record, he steps in to face Richard Dalton at
the Playboy Mansion show.

The former WWE star also recently re-signed with the
organization that helped put him on the map in the world of mixed martial arts.

“We just signed a new deal,” said Puder. “A six-fight deal
for Strikeforce and its 18 months long so it’s going to be a good deal.”

With the crossover appeal of pro wrestlers to MMA, the real
question is can they train and improve enough to actually compete with
professional fighters? Puder seems to think they can indeed.

“I definitely think Brock Lesnar can,” Puder stated about
Lesnar’s transition to MMA. “He’s definitely an athlete, he’s proven himself in
amateur wrestling and college.

“Same with Kurt (Angle). He’s a stud. He went to the
Olympics six months after he had a broken neck. I mean these guys are
unbelievable athletes. I think anything’s possible for them.”

The rigors of being a professional wrestler take many a toll
on the body and mind. With the recent death and criminal investigation
surrounding Chris Benoit and suspicions of drug abuse around many other pro
wrestlers, the show has taken on a black eye of late.

Although a full-time mixed martial artist now, Puder admits
the day-to-day struggle of being a pro-wrestler definitely takes its toll.

“Pro wrestling on a day-to-day basis is harder,” Puder said.
“Right now, I’m down at about 225 (pounds), with pro wrestling I was 265. And
you know, jumping on top of each other, slamming each other, definitely with
the big guys, you know it’s death after a while.”

Now with his focus purely on MMA and his pro wrestling roots
behind him, Puder is hoping to continue his career in MMA and feels that a
title is in his future.

“In the next year or two, I definitely want to look for a
championship in whatever organization I fight for. I want to fight the bigger
names,” stated Puder.

Simply said, Daniel Puder has proven he wants to be a MMA
star and has all the natural ability and charisma to make it to the top. He
plans on using that ability to take the next step towards his goal of a
championship when he faces Richard Dalton on Saturday night in Beverly Hills,

“I’m going to knock him out,” Puder said adamantly.

Enough said.

Strikeforce will stream its Sept. 29 “Strikeforce at the
Mansion” event live to a worldwide audience exclusively at Yahoo! Sports.