Jim Ross has helped push some of the biggest talent in pro wrestling history, including former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, Steve Austin and The Rock.
While he no longer frequents the broadcast booth for WWE events, Ross remains active in all things sports – including MMA.
As a follower of the sport, Ross has attended several events, including the recent Fight Night card from Oklahoma.
When he runs into friends and fellow MMA fans, Ross is always asked about one subject: Ronda Rousey.
“Quite arguably their biggest star is Ronda Rousey. Anytime I’m around people that wanna talk UFC – friends, buddies of mine, football fans or whatever that I see at games and they talk about UFC and MMA in general – she’s always in the conversation,” said Ross, during a recent interview with Submission Radio. “So it’s hard to say that the UFC has a bigger star than Ronda Rousey right now and I don’t perceive that to be a bad thing.”
UFC president Dana White has said the same thing a number of times, providing Rousey with pay-per-view main event billings and spots on some of the larger cards. The former Olympic medalist has delivered, and is also expanding her own name through roles in major motion pictures including “The Expendables 3.”
Even though he enjoys the UFC and MMA in general, Ross remains true to his wrestling sole. When asked about pro wrestlers who could have transitioned over to MMA – like Lesnar did – he sees several athletes out there.
“Well obviously anytime you’re a gold medalist, Kurt Angle’s name pops up. If he had been able to go into MMA right after the Olympics in 1996 he probably would have had a very good career. He could have fought at 205 very effectively, even though he won his gold medal at 220 pounds. He didn’t have to cut much weight to be at 220, so he would have been exceptional at 205,” Ross said. “Swagger would have been unique if he would have gone into it right after college instead of going to WWE, with his college background. I think Dolph Ziggler (was) another one. If he would have gone in right after college he would have been a real viable and colorful competitive MMA fighter.
“WWE is recruiting a lot of outstanding amateur wrestlers to come to their performance center, and any of those guys if they had chosen the MMA route as opposed to the show business route probably could have made a decent showing, just simply because of their outstanding collegiate wrestling background; same thing that Cain Velasquez has. He was a great amateur at Arizona State and they were recruiting the same kind of guys that Cain was, coming out of college; same qualifications – you know sometimes maybe more accolades, but doesn’t mean they’d be better then Cain – but those are some of the guys that I could think about off the top of my head.
“Jack Swagger thought about MMA, had a chance to go do it. A lot of guys he knew from amateur wrestling were in it. He could have gone in it, but he decided to go another route, and I don’t think he has any regrets, because the travel is more strenuous but the toll on your body is arguable a more rapid decline in UFC then it is in WWE, simply because of the nature of the presentation. Even though a WWE guy will go through their body pretty quick too if they didn’t take care of it.”