What a long and twisted road this has been.
Former WWE Champion Batista, real name Dave Bautista, has been itching to make his mixed martial arts (MMA) debut, and all was set up for that to happen when Rashid Evans signed on the dotted line for an Oct. 6, 2012, date at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
But then he went to jail.
That's not a joke, folks, he really got locked up and was forced out of the fight. He was actually locked up while the fight was being promoted but it looked like he would still be able to make the booking until another violation landed him back in the clink.
This led to a mad dash to save the fight and apparently, every heavyweight on the East Coast was asked to step in to take on the 43-year-old "Brass Body." Finally, Vince Lucero was tabbed as a replacement, which could be bad news for Bautista.
No, Lucero isn't a name you probably recognize but he's got 42 professional fights under his belt to Bautista's goose egg. In comparison, Evans had never actually competed professionally, though he did have a few amateur bouts.
That's quite the step up in competition, even at this low a level, with less than a week to go until fight night.
Here's the official press release:
Due to an unforeseen incident, Rashid Evans has officially pulled out of the highly anticipated fight with former WWE superstar DAVE BAUTISTA set for October 6th. The scheduled fight will go on as planned with Vince Lucero stepping in to take Evans' place as Bautista's debut MMA opponent. The fight remains scheduled for 8 PM ET/5 PM PT at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island with Cesar Gracie as the play by play announcer.
The six time WWE World Champion is not going to let this small set back stop him from realizing his long time dream of making the move to Mixed Martial Arts. The Bautista camp is business as usual, continuing with his grueling pre-fight training determined to make Dave's debut fight a successful one, regardless of who ends up in the opposite corner at the starting bell.
Vince Lucero, a 40 year old MMA veteran has an impressive number of fights behind him with 42 professional bouts and 11 KOs. Fights include two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia, whom he fought less than two years ago, former UFC heavyweight contenders Justin Eilers, Homer Moore and Christian Wellisch, Strikeforce veteran Ruben Villareal and former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) contender Jimmy Ambriz in addition to fighting for the Bellator Fighting Championships in 2011. The sheer experience under Lucero's belt is sure to make him a formidable opponent for Bautista's debut fight.
Tickets for this highly anticipated fight are available now at www.ticketmaster.com. The fight is also available on DirecTV Pay Per View (that will include a free 7PM ET preshow) and worldwide live streamed with full screen HD by Vividas starting at 9PM ET at www.bautistamma.com for $29.95. The show, titled "Real Pain," is presented by Jimmy Burchfield's Classic Entertainment & Sports in association with June Entertainment and 4zero1 Entertainment Group. Real Pain features 14 bouts, including four former Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) contenders.
Bautista, 43, will also star in the upcoming November 2nd Quentin Tarantino blockbuster, The Man With the Iron Fists as the aptly named Brass Body. Fans can catch full interviews with Bautista, see the undercard lineups, the official The Man with the Iron Fists trailer, and watch the title fight streaming live at www.bautistamma.com.
Any of you Cagesiders plan on watching the upcoming attraction? We'll have live coverage of the bout and complete results on fight night this Saturday.