Exclusive: Tyler Stinson talks MMA hiatus and Pro Wrestling career

61f9e7fc98b11beda1f7427d58379565Hardcore MMA fans know Tyler Stinson for being a gritty welterweight journeyman who has competed for promotions like Strikeforce, Bellator, WSOF and most recently Titan FC. The 29-year old was slated to make his return to the cage in over a year at Titan FC 34 this past Saturday against Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons. However a foot injury would force “The Evolution” to withdraw from the matchup and Zac Bucia slotted in as his replacement. Stinson took to Facebook last week and made a surprising announcement. After 38 career fights and going 7-1 in his last eight bouts, Stinson made the decision to take a break from MMA. Instead he looks to pursue a childhood dream of competing in professional wrestling. “I basically just made an announcement saying that right now I’m not fighting.” Stinson told MMAOddsBreaker. “I don’t know if it’s a break or if I won’t fight again. I don’t think I need to say ‘I’ve retired’ because I can go fight again next week if I want to. ”   61f9e7fc98b11beda1f7427d58379565   “I just don’t have the passion for it anymore.” Stinson explained. “I had to pull out of this last fight [at Titan FC 34] with a foot injury that I’ve been dealing with for over a year. I just didn’t want to do it any more, basically. I still love the sport but I don’t have that love to compete right now. This is a dangerous thing to do when you’re not [competing in MMA] for the right reasons and you’re not doing it to try to be the best in the world. If you’re trying to do it to get paid and be on TV, that’s not something I’ve ever thought of. [For me] its about being the best in the world.” Hid decision to leave was surprising to some, especially since the one organization he hadn’t competed for during his MMA tenure was the UFC. While he’s explained that the Reebok deal wasn’t a factor in his decision to take a break from the sport, he also mentioned that a recent experience about potentially going on TUF 21 did make him think differently about the Las Vegas based promotion. “I actually turned down an opportunity to go on the [TUF 21] they wanted me to come on the Blackzillians and I said [sure]. But then they mandated that I had to relocate [to Florida] and be part of their team and be under their management. I [refused because] I’m here Grudge. I’d told them I’d do the show, but right after I’m coming back to Denver. Then they said I could live there but then if you I had a fight coming up I’d have to do my camp there. It felt like they were telling me this was an opportunity of a lifetime but you’ve got to do these all things. On top of the sacrifice of filling this show, because like I said I’ve got a job, rent. If they would have asked 5 years ago boom I would have dropped everything to be there because I didn’t have any responsibilities. That’s just another thing, I turned down that opportunity and I didn’t think twice about it. They filled my spot with the guy I beat in World Series, Valdir Araujo. The guy that I beat took my spot on the show, so just stuff like that.” Whether this was a sign, or ideal timing, Stinson made his Facebook announcement shortly after his home gym [Grudge Training Center] revealed the that they would start offering a professional wrestling program. “Here at Grudge Training Center in the last couple of weeks we worked out a deal that brought in Mercury Pro Wrestling Academy, the best professional wrestling school in Colorado to Grudge. That’s has been my dream. My first childhood memory that I have is wanting to be professional wrestler. I’ve never had that opportunity and now that opportunity is just thrown in my face. I think it would be foolish to waste any time not jumping all over that opportunity and really chasing my true dream.” The relationship between pro wrestling and MMA is nothing new. Brock Lesnar came to the UFC from the WWE in 2008 and had a successful career in the octagon winning the heavyweight championship at UFC 91. He later returned to the WWE in 2012 as health issues forced him to leave octagon. Stinson admits that’s one of the other reasons he’s leaving MMA, as professional wrestling has a different type of punishment on the body. “Training [for pro wresting] it’s another grind just like MMA but it’s more of getting those reps in, of taking the bumps, getting suplexed onto the ring. [It’s] just a type of abuse that you’re putting your body though.  I’m not getting punched or kicked or choked anymore. But I’m getting body slammed and I’m jumping off the top rope. It’s very similar it’s just a different type of abuse you’re putting your body though.” The Colorado native grew up during the WWE’s Attitude Era so it’s no surprise two of his biggest influences were Ken Shamrock and Steve Blackman. “Like Blackman was a traditional martial artist,  Shamrock was the baddest dude the UFC had ever had. I kind of look at that, but on the same side I want to kind of start my own path. I’ve been working on all the things that are involved in wrestling like the promos and just your character in general. I’ve always heard if you just be yourself and multiply that by 1000, and then you’ve got a wrestling character.  This is a brand new experience for me to actually be doing it. I do have a finisher [that] I’m going to keep a secret for now. It is a top rope maneuver, it’s pretty sweet, and original. Then music, I’m fortunate enough at Grudge, one of our amateur boxers is also a music producer. So we’ve been collaborating so he’s going to make me some custom music. This has all worked out so smoothly, it’s crazy.” Much like his MMA career, Stinson plans to devote the majority of his time to this new career path. This isn’t a part time thing, Stinson has his goals set high and he isn’t embarking on this journey for any other reason. “I’m not getting body slammed every day for nothing. I want to do this in front of a crowd, I want to perform. Fighting was awesome, but later in my career I was only fighting maybe a couple times a year. Early on I was getting six, seven fights a year and that still wasn’t enough. I just think I’m a performer and I want to showcase my skills. I need a crowd to do that and obviously I want to get as high as I can. If I got to the WWE, I mean that’s just an unbelievable thought right now. But that is it goal, is to get to the top of this new venture in my life. But right now I just want to do whatever I can to help NRW, the promotion I’m debuting with. Help them grow and if something does come to where I go to the next level, I just want to leave better then when I came into it.” stinson pro wrestling     You can listen to the full audio version of this interview on an “Extra” episode of The Parting Shot Podcast below. You can also follow Tyler on Twitter/Instagram @Steemon84 and he’d like to thank Grudge Training Center and Mercury Pro Wrestling Academy. 

Written by James Lynch

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