Yahoo’s Cagewriter columnist Maggie Hendricks, noting Shaquille O’Neal’s recent Twitter challenge to the very-washed-up Chuck Lidell, reports the Suns C has commenced mixed martial arts training at Jonathan Burke’s Gracie Gym in Orlando, FL.
O’Neal, who is listed at 7’2″ and 325 lbs., goes by his old nickname at the gym, Diesel. He’s been training with Burke for 10 years, where he does the full gamut of MMA, boxing, jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai and wrestling. Cagewriter spoke with Burke who said that O’Neal is in great shape, and loves the nature of the training.
“We can work drills 20 times through, and he works his tail off on everything,” Burke said. “He has way more talent with this stuff than people would imagine.”
O’Neal’s specialty? Much like Clubber Lang, it’s pain. Shaq-fu is said to have some killer knees as well as a phenomenal rear naked choke. He isn’t the only athlete to try MMA, as former Redskins wide receiver Michael Westbrook is now a jiu-jitsu player who won his only MMA match. Marcus Jones, a six-year NFL veteran, turned to MMA in retirement, and has won four fights. Will Shaq ever enter the cage?
“Not while he’s playing,” Burke said. “But you never know.”
Indeed, you never know. But I’d hazard a guess O’Neal’s MMA career would last about as long as Ed “Too Tall” Jones’ boxing stint. More likely, I forsee a rather large lawsuit being filed by whichever unlucky future contestant on “Pros Vs. Joes” has the poor judgement to get physical with the NBA’s leading police fetishist.