Jim Ross on WWE vs UFC, Cain Velasquez vs Jack Swagger

On September 3, 2014 By

The voice of Monday night RAW, Jim Ross made a legendary appearance on Submission Radio and talked about his experience at UFC Tulsa and watching Benson Henderson get knocked out at the hands of Rafael Dos Anjos. J.R also talked about the crossover appeal between the UFC & WWE, MMA’s biggest star, Cain Velasquez vs Jack Swagger, the Benson stoppage, his favourite fighters to watch, legitimate tough men in wrestling, who in the WWE would have fared the best in MMA, commentating MMA, his favourite MMA commentating duo, The Rock’s movies, and more.

Interview highlights below

Thoughts on if the main event was stopped early and who JR saw at UFC Tulsa who he thinks could be a big star in the future

“I still like Benson Henderson, I think he’s an excellent fighter. I thought that it might have been a little quick stoppage in that fight, but it’s certainly arguable. I would air on the side of caution obviously, than rather let it go. I thought John McCarthy’s decision was a little premature, but not enough to be up in arms about it.”

On how you can develop stars in MMA

“I think that the thing the UFC has to do, is they have to utilize all the air time they have when they’re on their various television shows, and maybe spend time on each show focusing on some of their young talent that they feel good about, and not spend the majority of the time just promoting the next big fight.”

“The UFC might be wise in devoting some time on all of their non-live event shows that they air – and they air a lot of ’em here in the sates it seems like with their relationship with FOX – and always have something on there that lets me get to know one of their young fighters a little better. I have to make an emotional investment in the fighters and I need to know more about them. I need to know why I should be excited about watching this individual fight, why I want this individual to win, or why I don’t happen to like this individual for whatever reason; but you gotta let me know who these people are in more depth. I think that’s very important.”

“They have some stars, but they can always use more they’ll never have too many, injuries are always an issue. It concerns me that guys sometimes seemingly over train, you wonder why so many injuries happen during training camp. I understand somebody’s gonna say ‘well JR it’s not WWE, this is not showbiz’. Well contrary to that ignorant remark that I just made, a lot of guys in wrestling get hurt for real. The outcomes are predetermined, but they do get hurt, they do make contact, they do work two hundred and something days a year. That’s the longest season in the world. There’s no official off-season. So you wonder about the training of those guys, and another thing that concerns me about the UFC is their policies on cutting weight. I think that needs to be taken into consideration because then if that didn’t happen, your roster and your line up has a whole different look to it.”

On Ronda Rousey being one of the biggest stars in the UFC

“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. 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.”

“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 220lbs. “

(JR comes on at [55:14])

On concerns about UFC fighters cutting weight

I think that the camps, the fighters, everybody involved in the scenario should really evaluate the weight cutting and not put it into a dangerous, physical dangerous area. When you see guys that are cutting, you know thirty, forty, fifty pounds – and we don’t really know when a guy disappears off TV and he’s getting ready for his next fight, we don’t see him at his walking around weight, his non-fighting weight his non-training camp weight – So then they go on these regiments of where their starving themselves, their not staying hydrated, and I just think it’s a very dangerous, potentially dangerous situation, and the same thing I would say about amateur wrestling around the globe. The weight that these guys pull, sometimes is very dangerous; the amount of weight and the length of time that they have to do it in. So I don’t think it’s just a UFC issue, I think the fighters themselves, they have to realize maybe they would be better at a heavier weight. But a lot of ’em are cutting a lot more weight because they perceive that the weight class that they can get to by cutting weight is easier to win at than a bigger weight. Whether that’s true or not I don’t know, but I just think that the safety of the fighters would be my first concern. You damn sure don’t want anybody dying because they cut too much weight and they shut their system down. And those things can happen if you are too drastic with your cut.”

“I think it’s an issue that will be addressed. You know you’ve got a lot of fighters and it costs a small fortune every time you do a test. There is huge cost involved in doing these test, I’m talking seven figures annually plus, plus, on a roster their size to randomly test their fighters. And it is an issue, and the issue is that how do you put a plan in place that prohibits or lessens the opportunity to cheat. One thing you could say, is that when you do catch a cheater, they’re out for a year. So they can’t fight for you for a year, they can’t get a licence for a year. You gotta make penalties strong enough that it dissuades people from wanting to cheat. And people are always gonna want to get an unfair advantage, no matter what you play. So I think that the drug testing is an issue with MMA, but they gotta come up with a way that they can fund it and do the test.”

“If you’re not going to take blood, then can’t test for HGH, unless something new is out that your urine will allow you to test for a human growth hormone. And the national football league the NFL, the American tackle football, I believe is wrought with HGH issues because their players thinks that they don’t have to give blood, they just have to give urine. So my issue is, is that on all level of sports, and even my friends that live in Hollywood say to a large degree a lot of Hollywood leading men are users of physique enhancers. So that would be performance enhancing in theory. So it’s a major issue without question, but again you gotta go back and say ‘how do you fund it?’ It’s easy to say what’s right to do, but can you afford it? To test 400 guys on an ongoing basis would cost the company literally millions and millions of dollars, and how do you account for that quite frankly?”

On which Pro Wrestler’s JR believes would have done well in MMA

“Well obviously anytime you’re a gold medallist, 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 220lbs. He didn’t have to cut much weight to be at 220, so he would have been exceptional at 205.”

“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 colourful competitive MMA fighter.”

“WWE is recruiting a lot of outstanding amateur wrestlers to come to their performance centre, 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.”

On if Brock Lesnar’s injuries in Pro Wrestling contributed to his MMA career being short along with the Diverticulitis

“I think the big issue in Brock’s UFC career was Diverticulitis and Diverticulosis, his stomach issues where he almost died. I think that was the biggest culprit of all. The only concussion that I’m aware that I can recall – and I hired Brock Lesnar, and I recruited Brock Lesnar, and I managed him his entire run in the WWE – was at Wrestlemania 19 where he tried to do the shooting star press and he landed on his head while wrestling Kurt Angle. That was a very serious miscalculation. He should never have tried the move in hindsight. Those who gave him advice to do it were wrong and he had been nailing it off-Broadway so to speak, but I don’t think the alleged litany of concussions or his WWE injuries had any bearing whatsoever on his UFC run.”

“I think that they are two entirely different genres, but I think there is competition. I disagree with the other assessment ”

If JR believes the WWE and the UFC are competitors in any way

“I think that they are two entirely different genres, but I think there is competition. I disagree with the other assessment (Vince’s and HHH’s views on the products not being competition). When both are in the Pay Per View world and the WWE is not in the traditional Pay Per View world as much as they used to be with their WWE network launching, but when you are looking for disposable income and all of us only have so much of that to go around, and you have to decide, of your disposable income, how much are you going to spend on entertainment; let’s say a Pay Per View for example, and you’ve only got so much money to go around. Which Pay Per View do you buy? Do you buy a WWE event, or do you buy a UFC event? If you’re going to go to a live event, again go back to the disposable income issue. You’ve only got so much money to go around to take your buddies, your mates, your family, your whatever to an event. Do you go watch WWE when it comes to your city? Or do you go watch UFC. You know some people are fortunate enough that they can afford to go to both, a lot of people aren’t. So consequently I think in that respect, there is competition.”

“I think a lot of old school pro wrestling fans – when wrestling was a little bit more steak then sizzle and had a different presentation – I think that a lot of those fans are now UFC fans and are more devotees to the UFC then they are of Pro Wrestling as they were back in the day.”

“So I think a lot of displaced wrestling fans that are not as much fans of ‘Sports Entertainment’ but they like the old school pro wrestling, I think a lot of those fans have faded to the UFC-MMA side and occasionally sample pro wrestling, but more often than not they’re in the UFC.

Thoughts on TNA

“Well they have to find a North American cable television partner. They gotta find it by the 1st of the year because that’s when there extension with Spike ends. So they have to find that partner that pays them enough rights fees to help pay their bills. They can’t make, it I don’t think – that’s my assumptions – I am assuming that TNA Impact wrestling cannot survive long term, simply on the money they earn outside the United States or outside North America. It’s just not there to pay their bills, and other than that, they’re gonna have to do some retooling on their business model and they’re gonna have to work on their budget. So if they don’t have that money, I think it’s imperative that they get an North American cable outlet that pays them enough money to help them keep their doors open. And I hope that they succeed. They have a potential to be a good brand. I think they have a very variable talent roaster, but I would put it in terms this way, some of them are cast wrong if you wanna use a showbiz term. They’re in the wrong rolls, and using an American Football term I think they’re running the wrong system. Their talents aren’t being used to fit the talent’s strengths. But I have a lot of friends that work there and I hope they get a second chance and that they succeed in the future.”

“TNA’s gotta change the way they present their product if they do get in a new environment, and if they do, they have to become the alternative to the WWE and not be compared as a ‘WWE lite’ comparison.”

On Ken Shamrock and if he had a rough run due to heat in the WWF/E

“Kenny was just coming into his own when he left, but Ken had not gotten the MMA out of his system. He was ready to re-engage and wanted to have some more fights and that’s why he left the WWE. There was no underlying controversies or anything along those lines. He wanted to leave to go back to MMA because he thought he had unfinished business there and had some more fights in him and that was his first love. So that’s why he left, but if he had stayed he would have been a major player during the Attitude Era, and my thought was that he was evolving very, very nicely. Ken is a really good, focused, tough guy and was just coming into his own when he decided to go back to the MMA world. So I enjoyed working with him. He was a tough guy and he didn’t have to sit out because of a little nagging injury, he was always ready to roll. So he’s the kinda guy you want in your locker room. Good guy but no controversy when he left, he just wanted to go back and take care of some unfinished business and go back to his first love, and as it worked out he just never made it back to the WWE. You know father time has a way of addressing some of those issues, but I enjoyed working with him.”

On if JR has been approached about commentating on any MMA shows

“I have and you know we just haven’t been able to come to terms. (There’s) still ongoing talk about that. You know I’m working on a project now that may or may not happen. You know showbiz and contracts and lawyers, sports entities; you can’t cash your money before the cheque’s written. So yeah I’ve been contacted by several people, but the deal’s not right. And when the deal’s right I will give it a shot. I’d like to do the play by play for an MMA show at some point in my life time. (I) certainly feel like I’d do it, and if I only did one that’d be cool, but I’d like to try it. (It’s) kinda on my bucket list of things I’d like to do, but thus far there are smaller groups and it just hasn’t been in the cards yet. Not say it’ll never happen, because my agent talks to somebody just about every day about some shape, form or fashion of that whole conversation.”

On who his favourite commentating pair in MMA is

“Well I like Goldberg and Rogan. I think Rogan is the star of that team, but Mike does a real nice job of letting Joe be the star in that respect, and they’ve got most of the big assignments. To be honest with you, I have not watched enough Bellator to give you an honest and educated opinion of their broadcast guys. I’ve listened to them some, I certainly don’t think they’re bad, but the other guys get more exposure. But they’re finding (that) it’s challenging because the play-by-play guy has to do some much work on the shows and then the colour analyst has to understand the genre and be able to speak in sound bites, and I think that they’re finding out that a lot of their former fighters or even their active fighters that are doing some of their studio shows are being challenged to be entertaining, and informative, and speak in sound bites. So it’s not a layup, its challenging to do, but I would go with Goldberg and Rogan right now because they’re the top team, on the top brand and doing the best shows.”

On who wins an amateur wrestling match between Cain Velasquez and Jack Swagger

“Oh gosh that would be an interesting match because they’re both, I’d say their skill sets are very, very comparable. I would probably have to lean toward Velasquez simply because of his higher finishes in the NCAA tournament then Swagger had, and that would be the only reason. Swagger was a two time all American, but he didn’t in the nationals as high as Cain did, so based on that I would probably give Cain the nod over my fellow Oklahoman. I think it would be a very competitive contest without question.”

JR talks about the truth on if the WWE wanted Steve Williams “Dr Death” to win the Brawl for it All and that Bart Gunn ruined their plans

“First of all, the Brawl for it All was a ridiculous creative idea. It should never have happened. A lot of guys got injured. It cause dissension amongst certain pockets of talent in the locker room which wasn’t there before. The Brawl for it All was not designed for Dr Death to get over, it was designed for whoever won it to get over more, until someone had the brilliant idea that they wanted the winner to fight Butterbean – who was a professional boxer and a 4 round specialist – and then whoever would have won the Brawl for it All would have been knocked by Butterbean no matter who it was. It just happened to be Bart Gunn who was a reliable, good, dependable guy, and the tales of my leading his demise and him out of the company are somewhat misguided and exaggerated. You never want to run off someone that is no problem, that is a good performer, that is a great team player. You can’t get too many of those guys, so it makes absolutely zero sense that I would ever wanna run Bart Gunn off of WWE.”

“It was a creative idea that went awry, and a lot of guys got hurt, and at the end of the day it didn’t mean a damn thing. It was absolutely a waste of time. And did we think that doc would have won it if it had been more MMA style? He had no experience at boxing, he was a wrestler. And when you put gloves on a wrestler – boxing gloves on a wrestler – you somewhat slow down their game. So that’s kinda how I look at that deal.”

On his opinion if Sting will ever wrestling in the WWE

“Yeah I do. One time. Wrestlemania 31”

If Kurt Angle would be back in the WWE before he retires

“Only if he can pass a full physical that satisfies the WWE medical team because of his neck.”

If Jim believes Steve Austin will come back for one last match at Wrestlemania

“I’d like for it to happen, I don’t think it will”.

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