Bill Goldberg recently double speared and jackhammered his way to a pin fall victory over Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series. Satisfying as that quick scripted victory was for old school Goldberg fans like this writer, the fantasy world of professional wrestling doesn’t say anything about who would be likely to win real fights.
If it did, Attitude-era WWE superstars like UFC champs, Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn likely would have never lost, except to one another, and Brock Lesnar would likely never lose in the squared-circle. Of course, who gets put over and who has to take a fall in pro wrestling is decided in writers’ rooms and executive offices, to optimize sales and drama.
Fans still can’t help themselves in often wondering how this "wrassler" or another might do in real fights. Heck, the likes of former amateur wrestling champ Bobby Lashley and WWE champ Dave Batista wondered so much that they gave side MMA careers a go.
The revolving door for someone like Lesnar between the WWE and the UFC also blurs the lines of what is possible for pro-wrestlers, at least in the furthest stretches of our imaginations. Lesnar, a decade younger, a former NCAA Division I national wrestling champion and former UFC heavyweight title-holder, would doubtless dispatch Bill Goldberg with ease should they ever mix it up in a real fight.
That isn’t to say, however, that Goldberg isn’t a good enough athlete to take a real fight against someone. The former NFL lineman is a spectacular athlete, has kept in great shape, even nearing 50 years of age, thanks in large part to his Muay Thai kickboxing training, and has repeatedly spoken of his desire to compete in kickboxing.
So, because it’s fun to consider, we wonder below how well Goldberg might do well in real MMA competition. We’ll break Goldberg down into a few key categories to predict his chances.
Read on, then let us know what you think, and who you’d like to see Goldberg fight in the comments section!
Athleticism: Taking a host of sub-categories together (speed, reflexes, flexibility, strength), Goldberg likely possesses more favorable physical traits than most MMA rookies do. Goldberg has always performed with agility as a pro-wrestler, especially for someone as tall and heavy as he is, and he was a good enough athlete to play football at the University of Georgia and in the NFL. Most people entering MMA would love to have the physical tools Goldberg has.
Age, wear & tear: At 49 years old, Goldberg would either need to choose an opponent very carefully to fight – namely someone his age. If he would have taken his physical tools and trained to fight in his 20’s or early 30’s, however, and stayed relatively healthy, there’s no telling how nicely Goldberg could have developed his technical skill.
Psychology: I don’t want to make too much of this, but it needs to be noted that Goldberg has never actually chosen to compete in real fighting. He’s often touted how much he trains Muay Thai each week, and said how he wouldn’t do so if he didn’t intend to fight.
Chances are that Goldberg was just mindful of his worth as an athlete and didn’t want to fight publicly without securing the right type of deal from a promoter. If so, there’s nothing wrong with that. Here’s the thing about real fighters, though – they’ll do just about anything to chase fights.
Look at Batista – he fought at a small, regional show, likely for very little compensation, against an opponent who was on a two-fight winning streak and had nearly 50 professional MMA contests. That tells me Batista wanted to fight for fighting’s sake.
Aggression and horsepower only take a fighter so far – If they aren’t eager to throw themselves into the fire, they likely won’t come back for more the first time they’re hit real hard or dropped. A real fight is an especially bad place to find yourself if you don’t truly want to be there.
Skills: As it stands, Goldberg likely has a very low skill-level with anything he can use for real fighting. He doesn’t have an amateur wrestling background, so despite his powerful spear, there’s no reason to believe he has good takedown technique.
The big man has spent nearly 20 years doing work in Muay Thai kickboxing, however, and footage of him hitting pads and doing light timing sparring shows some nice coordination. Goldberg doesn’t appear to have anything resembling pro-level kickboxing coordination or defensive reflexes, but I bet he hits hard and that he could give a host of regional fighters his age hell for a couple minutes.
Goldberg’s skill on the mat is unknown, but judging from interviews over the years, it doesn’t seem as though he’s spent much time working on the ground in comparison to his standup.
Conclusion: The unknown of how much of a fighter’s mentality Bill Goldberg has makes it impossible to know how well he could have ever adjusted to real fight competition, whether it be MMA or some type of kickboxing. We can say that his physical tools would be a dream for any right-minded fighter to start with, though.
Goldberg could have true heavyweight size and height, and if he got with and stuck with good coaching that developed a style suiting him (I’m guessing closing the distance with straight shots, pressing against the cage and learning to do tactical damage in the clinch before working for trips and controlling position on the mat from on top might work well for the hypothetical fighting Goldberg), would appear to have been a phenomenal prospect in MMA, 20 or 25 years ago.
As it stands, if Goldberg ever decides he wants to test his body and mental mettle, there are other guys in their 40’s and 50’s in the amateur ranks that he could conceivably compete with if he truly wanted to and put in a good 6-12 months of hard training in.
That day will probably never happen, but that hasn’t stopped us from enjoying Bill Goldberg as an entertainer and athlete. It also hasn’t stopped the fearsome looking fight enthusiast from being a great ally and ambassador of real fighting like MMA and kickboxing.
Goldberg introduced the world to the modified Harbinger bag-gloves that would go on to be models for modern MMA gloves, goes out of his way to interview and promote great fighters and promotions of the world, and lets people know how fun and rewarding fight-style exercise can be. For that, and for years of great entrances, snarls and spears, we’ll always be grateful to Bill Goldberg, regardless of whether or not he ever competes in the ring or cage.