Baron Corbin once considered a UFC career before signing with WWE NXT.
Corbin originally worked NXT from August 2012 until April 2016 as he was called up to the main roster at WrestleMania 32, where he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Corbin was declared a free agent this past May in the 2023 WWE Draft, and later that month he returned to NXT to attack NXT Champion Carmelo Hayes. Corbin eventually used the NXT return to “set fire to his past” with a series of vignettes, and he has been a member of the NXT roster ever since.
In a recent interview with Fightful Select, Corbin admitted that his main roster program with WWE Hall of Famer JBL did not work out. He said it was around the time of the Draft that he was asked if he had any interest in returning to NXT. His response was, “Absolutely.”
A big draw for the return to NXT was the fact that his house was only 1.5 hours from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando. Corbin added that the way the NXT return was presented to him was an opportunity.
Corbin noted that while WWE is letting him reinvent himself in NXT, the return also gave others in NXT a new talent to work with. He specifically named Hayes, Trick Williams and Ilja Dragunov.
When asked about other wrestlers complimenting him on his endurance, Corbin said he takes pride in the ability to go, and that he likes to look at it as a test. He noted that the NXT wrestlers move at a different pace, pointing to how his match with Dragunov went 19 minutes and he still did not get tired. Corbin said it made him step up to another level.
Corbin became a two-time Golden Gloves amateur boxing champion long before he got into pro wrestling, and over the years he has talked about having some interest in doing MMA for UFC. When asked about his past MMA interest, Corbin noted that he was looking into being a part of Team Rashad Evans (which went against Team Rampage Jackson) for UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter in late 2009. However, Corbin was still in college at that time, and had a scholarship, so MMA wasn’t a possibility.
Corbin won his NXT return match over Williams on the June 6 episode, then defeated Dragunov on June 13. He came up short against Hayes, for the title, on Night 2 of the NXT Gold Rush special on June 27, but then wrestled Gable Steveson to a double count out at The Great American Bash on July 30. After defeating Andre Chase on the August 1 episode, Corbin entered into a program with Bron Breakker and Von Wagner. Corbin vs. Breakker will take place at NXT No Mercy on September 30.
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