and Bobby Lashley
have already proven that pro wrestlers, or at least a select few, can hang in mixed martial arts. Now Lisa Marie Varon
, known as "Victoria" during her nine-year run in World Wrestling Entertainment, is poised to prove that WWE Divas can compete with the best female mixed martial artists as well.
Varon, who currently works for Total Nonstop Action wrestling as "Tara," recently announced her intention to make her MMA debut in the near future. And while she has not set a date, the 38-year-old told FanHouse that she would love to fight before the end of the year.
"I feel more than ready now. I mean, if someone said tomorrow, You have to fight tomorrow, I feel I can fight tomorrow," she said.
A former high school track star, and a fitness competitor later in life, Varon was first introduced to MMA by watching The Ultimate Fighter
. Since then, she says, stepping into an MMA cage or ring has always been in the back of her mind.
"I really got sucked in by seeing how they lived, how they trained and everything like that. You know, for wrestling, that's our lifestyle, too: we eat, breathe and sleep wrestling. So it kind of paralleled the same lifestyle I led, but I've always been a fan of it," she said.
"When I retired from WWE in January -- I'm not a stay at home person. I can't stay home and eat bon bons, and be lazy, and enjoy the fruit of my retirement -- I was looking into classes to still keep in shape and still be an athlete. I came across a school, Core Combat in Louisville, KY, and I looked at their MMA classes, and it was taught by Alex "The Brazilian Killa" Stiebling."
Soon, she caught the MMA bug and decided to train more. First, though, she was warned that MMA was, you know, real.
"I'm surrounded by, 'This is not phony wrestling.' It's kind of an insult to my craft. We break our limbs. [Pro wrestling] is a sport, as well, even though it's entertainment. You still have to be in shape for it," she said.
"I know I have the stigma of being a pro wrestler coming into this industry, but I know I'm not going to go in there just to make a competitive match. I'm there to make a statement and to dominate the fight. I'm not going to be going in there half-ready; I'm going to make a statement. I know that I'm going to be representing Brock Lesnar, Bobby Lashley, but I feel like I am the next Brock Lesnar. He has ridiculous strength and so do I."
Varon currently trains in all disciplines, and is learning jiu-jitsu with world champion Helio "Soneca" Moreira. She doesn't have any kind of martial arts background, but her three brothers did compete in amateur wrestling.
She recently made headlines when Rich Franklin's manager, J.T Stewart, told the Dayton Daily News
that he was representing her in MMA, and she was interested in a fighting Kim Couture
. However, Varon says that she is not affiliated with Stewart.
"He did want represent me, and I had to clear that up by saying I represent myself. He wanted me to sign a contract with him. I don't want to do it exclusive; I've done contracts in the past. I represent myself; I'm a smart woman. I own my own business here in Louisville, KY, and it's Black Widow Customs, and I've always done well. I have education. I'm not that muscle head stereotype of a wrestler that people think I am," she said.
"I think he took it upon himself to post something out there, and it got out. I don't know how it came about, but then, I guess, Kim Couture took wind of it."
Nevertheless, Varon, who expects to compete in the 135-pound weight class, says she would love to fight Couture.
"I have a lot of respect for Kim Couture, nothing against her. I respect her as a fighter," she said.
"I know she has a big name behind her, but I've watched several of her fights online, and I thinks she's a great fighter. But no one trains as hard as I do. If people want to watch me train, they can watch me. I think I train the hardest. I don't think anybody is strong like me."
Varon has yet to contact Strikeforce about fighting Couture, but hopes to talk to CEO Scott Coker soon about her MMA future.
"Strikeforce is where all the best female competitors are, and I do want to be in that ranking," she said.
The former bio-med student at UCLA only works for TNA five days a month, and says she trains 3-to-4 hours a day on her off days. Her next big TNA match airs on pay-per-view on Oct. 18.
She used to share a locker room with former WWE heavyweight champion turned UFC heavyweight champion, Lesnar, and said he recently told her that if he could pick one female pro wrestler to get into MMA, she would be the one.
"I know that I'm going in here kind of blind, but I'm not a lazy, stereotypical pro wrestler that people think I am. If you could ask anybody in the pro wrestling industry who the top five female wrestlers are, I think I fall into that category. The strongest girl in WWE, Beth Phoenix, one slap and I broke her jaw, and I put her out for a year, which I felt guilty about. Didn't plan on that," she said.
Varon's only major injury from wrestling is a torn ACL, but it never bothers her during training. She also knows that people will point to her age as a major hurdle, but considers this the best time to enter the newest chapter in her life.
"People know that I'm 38, but I like to correct them and say that I'm 38 and a half. It's not an obstacle for me. I'm in the best shape of my life right now. I really do believe that. I have muscle mass from years of training, and I've always been an athlete, so like fine wine, I get better with age," she said.
Her old WWE entrance song was entitled "I Ain't the Lady to Mess With," and even before competing in her first fight, it appears as though Varon has adopted a similar mindset heading into her new career.
"I know I have a lot at risk, and I know have a lot of opportunities that other female fighters do not have, and I know that I'm cutting in line of current MMA fighters. But at the same time, I'm going to go in there and prove a point that I'm not one to mess with."