Dave Batista (left): Photo Courtesy of Cesar Gracie and Quinn Shields
Former World Wrestling Entertainment star Dave Batista started a two-day training stint with the Cesar Gracie camp Wednesday after Strikeforce helped facilitate the connection with the potential signee and the noted California gym.
Gracie told Sherdog.com that Batista arrived this afternoon and worked out with former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields and rolled with welterweight champion Nick Diaz at the Cesar Gracie gym in Lodi, Calif.
Gracie said that his initial read of the 41-year-old pro wrestler was that he is a “natural athlete.”
“He’s got a lot to learn but his strength alone is impressive,” Gracie told Sherdog.com Wednesday evening. “Obviously he’s a beginner at jiu-jitsu but we can take a guy like that that’s already a strong athlete like that and teach him what to not get caught in.”
Gracie said Batista, who grew up in Washington D.C., wrestled in high school and has some background in traditional martial arts standup fighting.
“He’s a pretty good kicker,” said Gracie. “He hits very hard.”
Gracie said he, Batista, training partner Imani Lee and Strikeforce matchmaker Rich Chou were to meet Wednesday evening to discuss a game plan to get Batista ready for a pro MMA fight.
Strikeforce is negotiating with the multi-time Wrestlemania headliner to try his hand in MMA. A long-time fan of the sport, who has reportedly trained at the Affliction training facility in Los Angeles, Batista began talks with Strikeforce last month after ending a lucrative eight-year run with the WWE. Batista said in interviews that he had become disillusioned with the industry and has recently pursued film acting.
“I did discuss it with him and he told me he was definitely interested in doing an MMA fight, so that’s the game plan and I think what we’re going to discuss is a training schedule and some serious hardcore training,” said Gracie. “I think they realized when they were training with my guys today, they were amazed.”
Gracie said the connection started with Lee, who fought on the same Dream 14 card as Nick Diaz in May.
“Nick and Imani, they started working, talking and working technique and then Imani expressed his desire to come up,” Gracie said.
Batista and Lee tried to contact Diaz for several days after the event, Gracie said, but were unsuccessful. They went to Strikeforce for help reaching Gracie, and the promotion facilitated the connection.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has said he would be interested to see Batista tested in the MMA cage, and is particularly interested in matching him with another WWE alumnus in Bobby Lashley.
Gracie said he can see where promoters would be interested in Batista because he is “very charismatic, very self confident . . . definitely a presence.”
Asked when he thinks Batista would be ready for a pro fight, Gracie said it would depend on who his opponent is.
“You’re talking about a guy who is very powerful, very strong and an extremely hard worker, and if he can put it all together he could be a very formidable force,” he said. “And he’s at the right camp for that… Our camp is known for bringing people with nothing and making them into something. We like to make champs.”
This article was updated Thursday at 12:37 a.m. with information from Cesar Gracie.
Dave Batista (right): Heather Rousseau/Splash News