WWE star says he declined $500K, multiple UFC offers

A WWE superstar turned down three UFC offers?

By: Anton Tabuena | 3 weeks ago

Before his legendary WWE career, Kurt Angle was a two-time NCAA Division I champion and an Olympic gold medalist wrestler. He constantly flirted with the idea of competing in MMA, but how close was it from happening?

Angle claims he had three different negotiations and contract offers from the UFC through the years.

Kurt Angle says he declined three UFC offers

“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.”

Angle immediately found success in pro-wrestling, becoming a WWE champion and a mainstream star in the industry. His flirtation and interest with MMA didn’t end there though.

Kurt Angle called UFC after leaving WWE

Several years later, Angle said he contacted the UFC, when Dana White and Zuffa was already 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.”

Apr. 3, 2005 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, USA - K42523MR.WRESTLEMANIA 21 AT THE STAPLES CENTER.LOS ANGELES, CA. 04-02-05. MILAN RYBA 2005.SHAWN MICHAELS VS. KURT ANGLE. - ZUMAg49_ 20050403_gaf_g106_162 Copyright: xMilanxRybax
IMAGO / ZUMA / Milan Ryba

Kurt Angle turned down $500,000 to compete in TUF with Kimbo Slice

A few more years later, he had another conversation with the UFC after he left 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.”

Dana White previously confirmed the story about TUF negotiations with Angle. According to the UFC President though, the only reason it didn’t push through was because the WWE star didn’t pass the medicals.

Angle’s various neck surgeries were well documented, which likely stopped that transition. It probably was for the best, as his age and long list of injuries would’ve had taken a huge toll on him by then.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 8: Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle at WWE Wrestlemania 34 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana on April 8, 2018. PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xGeorgexNapolitanox
Kurt Angle with Ronda Rousey. Photo via IMAGO / MediaPunch / George Napolitano

Would Kurt Angle have done well in MMA?

Similar to a number of fans, the WWE star says he will always have “what ifs” on MMA, especially if he made the move early.

“Every once in a while it gets to me,” Angle admits. “When I watch these fights, I’m like ‘gosh man, I think I would’ve done pretty well in this.’ Seeing Brock Lesnar and my friend become UFC champion, seeing Randy Couture, who I trained with for the Olympics being UFC champion.

“It makes you question ‘did you do the right thing?’ but I look back and I say ‘you know what? I had a pretty stellar career in pro-wrestling, so I can’t regret that.”

There’s a good chance Angle could’ve dominated the early UFC landscape if he made the move and trained seriously in his prime. He likely made the right choice though, as careers in MMA wouldn’t have been long or lucrative, especially compared to the career he had in pro-wrestling.

Angle, now 54, has spent almost three decades in professional wrestling. Even in 2023, he still makes money on sporadic WWE appearances.

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About the author
Anton Tabuena
Anton Tabuena

Anton Tabuena is the Managing Editor for Bloody Elbow. He’s been covering MMA and combat sports since 2009, and has also fought in MMA, Muay Thai and kickboxing.

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