The UFC has signed CM Punk, and Bellator MMA might be on the verge of signing its own former WWE star.
Bellator president Scott Coker told MMA Fighting on Monday that his organization has been in negotiations with former WWE standout Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio, whose real name is Jose Rodriguez, fought in MMA for nine years, including a pair of bouts with PRIDE.
"I think that we did reach out," Coker said. "I'm not sure where that is and by no means is it in the 11th hour, but I know there's some dialogue going on."
Rodriguez, who competed in MMA under the name Dos Caras, Jr., has a notable head kick knockout loss to Mirko Cro Cop at PRIDE Bushido 1 in 2003 on his record. Rodriguez trained under Marcos Ruas and went 9-5 in his mixed martial arts career between 2001 and 2010. Seven of his nine career victories came via submission.
Rodriguez, 37, is 6-foot-5 and more than 230 pounds, so he would likely compete in either the heavyweight or light heavyweight division.
In pro wrestling, Rodriguez was a popular former WWE champion and also competed for Mexican organizations AAA and CMLL. He was fired by WWE in August after slapping an employee. Rodriguez has said the man, a web producer, made a racist joke about him, prompting the physical altercation.
After being ousted by WWE, Rodriguez returned to AAA, where he won the heavyweight title earlier this month. Rodriguez also reportedly a signed a deal with U.S. wrestling promotion Ring of Honor.
Could Rodriguez return to MMA with Bellator next? Coker likes the idea.
"He's had a lot of great MMA fights and I just think that would be a fun time to see him fight some of the guys we have on our roster," Coker said.
Bellator already has former WWE champion Bobby Lashley on its roster. Tito Ortiz and Muhammed Lawal, two of Bellator's biggest stars, also have dabbled in pro wrestling with TNA.