Before he became a WWE legend, Kurt Angle had quite the wrestling pedigree, boasting two NCAA Division I championships and an Olympic gold medal.
Angle also tossed around the idea of stepping into the world of MMA, recently revealing that he engaged in multiple negotiations with the UFC over the years, receiving contract offers on each occasion.
“I got offered three different times,” Kurt Angle told ESPN.
“First time was right after the Olympics in 1996,” Angle said. “Dana White wasn’t involved with the UFC back then. They came to me and they gave me their best contract, and it wasn’t a very good contract. It was ten fights for $150,000. That’s $15,000 per fight. And that was the highest they were giving to the fighters for the fights.”
“I was like, ‘You know what, that doesn’t sound right. I love fighting, but I don’t love it that much to get my butt kicked for 15 grand.’ So I decided to go to the WWE.”
Several years later, Angle said that he reached out to the UFC during the era when Dana White and Zuffa were in charge.
“In 2006, when I left the WWE, my manager contacted Dana White. I was curious whether I could fight,” he said. “Dana flew me out and put me up in a really nice penthouse suite. He offered me a deal and I considered it, and I ended up turning it down.
“The reason I turned it down in 2006 was because I just signed a contract with TNA, and Dana White would not let me wrestle and fight at the same time. And I didn’t want to go back to TNA and say ‘listen, that contract I just signed is null and void.’ So I didn’t want to do that and I wanted to respect their wishes.”
A few years later, he found himself in talks with the UFC once again, this time after his departure from TNA.
“Dana White told me ‘when you’re done with wrestling, come back to me,’ and I did,” he said. “When I thought I was going to be done with wrestling, I went back to Dana, and Dana came back with an idea to be in (The Ultimate Fighter) with Kimbo Slice.”
“I considered it,” Angle said. “And I said, ‘Well, Dana, you don’t pay those guys to be on TV.’ And he said, ‘I know, but I’ll give you a half-million to be on the show. And then I’ll give you this contract a six-fight deal regardless whether you win it, The Ultimate Fighter, or not. You’ll have a contract when it’s over.’
“I thought about it. At that point in my life I was 41 years old,” Angle said. “I broke my neck five times. I sat back and I realized — I started training for it a little bit, and I realized, ‘I’m past my prime, I can’t do this.’ So, I had to turn it down.”
Kurt Angle is one of the most accomplished and respected professional wrestlers of all time. He is a 13-time world champion, having held the WWE Championship, WWE’s World Heavyweight Championship, the WCW Championship, the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, and the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Angle retired from professional wrestling in 2016. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2017 and the TNA Hall of Fame in 2013.