It’s 2023, and Sam Alvey is fighting for a heavyweight title, The Rock is claiming to have considered an MMA career with PRIDE, and John Lineker is trying his “hands of stone” at Muay Thai. It’s Bizarro World for your latest edition of our Sunday MMA Quick Hits!
Sam Alvey gets title shot at Karate Combat 43
He may have left the UFC off one of the worst slumps imaginable, but the always smiling Sam Alvey has plenty of reasons to be grinning these days — as he’s landed a title shot at Karate Combat 43.
Alvey is actually on a two-fight win streak in combat sports, having won his first MMA fight outside the UFC, then his Karate Combat debut. Looks like there’s still some gas in “Smile’n” Sam’s tank after all.
The fight is at heavyweight, which is the weight class Alvey has been competing in of late.
The card goes down on December 15. Alvey is up against Ross Levine for the title.
— Karate Combat (@KarateCombat) November 14, 2023
John Lineker is trying his hand at Muay Thai
Those “Hands of Stone” could be deadly in Muay Thai.
Per ONE Championship officials, John Lineker is booked for a Muay Thai bout against Liam Harrison at ONE Fight Night 18 on January 12, 2024. It’s a detour from his MMA run, that has him with two straight wins after losing a rematch with Fabricio Andrade. The pair have fought twice, with the first bout ending in a No Contest after a low blow left Lineker unable to continue.
Guaranteed FIREWORKS 💥 John Lineker crosses over to Muay Thai to take on the legendary Liam Harrison at ONE Fight Night 18 on Prime Video! Who you got? 👀#ONEFightNight18 | Jan 12 at 8PM ET
🇺🇸🇨🇦 Watch Live on Prime pic.twitter.com/tQDRTbsDM1
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) November 18, 2023
The Rock’s PRIDE tale
Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. The Rock, was the biggest thing in wrestling in the late 90s/early 2000s. Big enough that he had an entire show named for him (which is still going today in WWE SmackDown).
Things weren’t always so rosey in Rockland, however. Early on, the third generation wrestler struggled to get over with fans. According to The Rock, speaking on The Joe Rogan Experience recently, that led him to consider trying his hand at MMA. Believable? We’ll get to that. He’s what Johnson had to say on the matter (h/t Bloody Elbow).
“97, during that time, I was was still going to LA and working out. We were crossing all the MMA guys. PRIDE just opened up in Japan. I started seeing all these MMA guys going over to PRIDE,” Johnson told Joe Rogan. “At that time, I was making $150,000 wrestling 235 days a year. Do the math on that and how much you’re making per match.”
The allure of big money in Japan appears to have been a motivating factor (when you consider what The Rock is worth today, you can understand that ultimately, he made a smart decision in staying put).
“We start hearing, ‘Hey, these guys in PRIDE are making $250,000, $350,000, $500,000.’ I thought then, ‘F—, I don’t think I’m going to make it in WWE. People are booing me out of the arenas. I can’t be myself. They’re telling me to f*cking smile, I don’t want to f*cking smile. That’s not who I am.’
“I start talking to Ken Shamrock at that time, who is wrestling with us. I run into Mark Kerr, I start talking to him,’ Tell me a little bit about PRIDE’. I have this idea in my head, ‘Maybe I should train in MMA, go to PRIDE, and make real money and then I don’t have to smile’. I’m sure I’m going to get f*cked up, knock one of my lungs loose, but maybe I could do something like that.
“Find the right coach and train, so I had this whole thing in my head. I was talking to my wife at that time, I said, ‘I think that’s the way to go. Those guys are paying real money and these fans are booing me over here for 150 grand.’”
The Rock did not end up joining PRIDE, or fighting anywhere. Instead, the ex-college football star was put into the Nation of Domination in WWE by Vince McMahon, a faction/storyline that turned his wrestling career around.
How legit is this PRIDE story? Let’s not forget that pro wrestlers are almost always working, and The Rock knows just who Rogan’s audience is. This feels a lot like Hulk Hogan’s “I was going to be the bassist in Metallica” story.