In the carnival world of pro wrestling, there are many brash and cocky people. Daniel Bryan has never really been one of those guys. Bryan (real name Bryan Danielson) has always been the underdog – smaller than most of his opponents but able to rise to the challenge. So when he made an offhand comment about a UFC fighter in an Instagram chat, it became a bigger thing than it probably would have been otherwise.
In the below idea (which was ripped from Instagram by Pro Wrestling Sheet), Bryan and his wife Brie Bella do a bit of a Q & A. Someone asks Bryan if he could beat Mike Jackson, the man who humbled former pro wrestler CM Punk at UFC 225:
In kind of a joking manner, he said “Did they just ask me if I could beat Mike Jackson in a fight? The answer…I could beat him on the ground, for sure. I think.” Someone says “prove it” and he says “If WWE will let me fight in the UFC, maybe.”
If you didn’t know Bryan, you might think that was an actual challenge. I’m pretty sure if was just Bryan playing around, which he does a lot. But word got back to Jackson, who of course had to respond:
He also spoke to Fansided about the challenge:
“Look Daniel Bryan; I will do you worse than I did your man Punk because I will have no reservations in punching this guy in the face 100-percent. And at will.”
Bryan’s rebuttal was simple:
The “on the ground” part is a reference to Bryan’s long-term training in MMA and jiu jitsu. Daniel has been in and out of wrestling action over the years due to some major injuries and when he hasn‘t been on the road, the Phoenix native has done some work grappling in The MMA Lab. Back in 2015, former UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson took notice of his apparent skill level there (via Sporting News):
“He was out with some injuries in WWE,” Henderson said. “He came to our gym and moved up to blue belt in jiu-jitsu under my coach John Crouch. Every time I go in there, he’s working his butt off. I heard he was pretty strong and actually surprised me with how technical he is. A lot of guys have a hard time learning all those techniques. I heard he was really great at being able to use his technique and not relying on his strength. He’s smooth and does jiu-jitsu really well.”
Before that, Bryan lived in Las Vegas for a while and trained in MMA at Xtreme Couture. He was even roommates with XC head coach Neil Melanson for a time.
So what does all this mean? Absolutely nothing. This isn’t a thing that’s going to happen. But it’s amusing that it became such a thing for some people in the wake of Jackson’s win over Punk.