By Christina Thomas
The latest in the line of uber-athletes from the professional wrestling world to try their hands (and feet, and elbows, etc) at mixed-martial arts, Dave “the Animal” Batista stormed into the Real Pain MMA debut looking much slimmed-down from his 320 lb+ wrestling days. Facing veteran journeyman Vincent Lucero, the Animal actually found himself in the position of being the “smaller” fighter, with Lucero coming in at over 300 lbs. But of course, Bautista was his usual muscle-bound self, although his great height had him looking somewhat slimmer than we’re used to seeing him, at only 265 lbs.
The great success of fellow wrestler Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley (not quite as great, but still kicking) in their transition to MMA brought out the viewers and PPV numbers for the man made famous by his Batista Bomb, with which he terrorized the WWE for over a decade. Now known as the Brass Body, the 6-time WWE ex-champ met Lucero in the middle of the octagon, where Lucero quickly tagged him with a few right hands that pushed Bautista back against the cage, although they didn’t appear to stun him much.
Showing adequate defense against Lucero’s attempts to swarm him while pressed against the cage, Bautista was able to break free – but not without taking a few more punches to the head on the break. He ate the striked without much fanfare, and while it displays a chin not made of glass, it may not bode well for future bouts against better strikers – but perhaps the Brass Body would have acquired head movement by that time.
An unimpressive stand-up, with the seasoned fighter throwing legit strikes but not hurting the amateur, and the amateur throwing muscle-punches but not landing any, Bautista made the first decisive move of the match, going for a double leg takedown that easily toppled the 300 pounder to the ground. Right into side-control, Lucero was completely unable to move Bautista off him; he would give up his back shortly afterwards to avoid being full-mounted. A rain of blows from Bautista prompted ref Dan Miragliotta to end the bout, giving yet another wrestler a win in his MMA debut.
The fight wasn’t particularly impressive to watch; however, it begs some analysis: Lucero is a trained fighter with loads of experience, whereas Bautista is a very green muscle man who walked into the cage and beat a man with 44 fights’ worth of experience. And at 43 years of age, Dave Bautista is over a decade older than Brock Lesnar when the later exploded onto the MMA scene in championship form. As Bautista gets more training in, learns to punch with his hips and not with his muscles, and gets his nerves under control, his second bout may be a better judge of where he’ll fall on the Lesnar-Lashley spectrum.