Details have been revealed about the end of Gable Steveson’s free agency, including what the UFC’s plans were for the Olympian had he signed with them.
Over the weekend, it was reported that Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson had signed with the WWE, but no additional details were available at the time. We can now confirm via ESPN that Steveson’s contract with the WWE is for multiple years, and he will still be allowed to return to The University of Minnesota for one final year via the new NCAA Names, Image, and Likeness (NIL) policy. With the cat now officially out of the bag, Steveson took to Twitter to share his joy with his followers.
“Childhood dream accomplished.. I have officially signed with the @WWE!!! Thank you for the opportunity!! LETS WORK,” Steveson posted.
Steveson spoke more at length with ESPN about what this new venture means to him.
“I’ve been on WWE since I was really young,” said Steveson, WWE’s first gold medalist since Kurt Angle. “I was on guys like Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman for a very long time. So growing up watching them, me being an entertainer on the wrestling mat, it just felt like it was the right choice.”
While Steveson is attending The University of Minnesota during his senior year, he will be literally learning the pro wrestling ropes, with WWE trainers helping to mold him into “The Next Big Thing” in the WWE much like his fellow Minnesota Gopher Brock Lesnar was before him.
Some have advised Steveson to take the Lesnar approach in general, meaning begin with the WWE, build up his star power, and then transition to MMA as a big draw. Lesnar was able to have his UFC debut after only one professional bout; but according to ESPN, the promotion had something different in mind in today’s modern-day UFC climate.
The plan was reportedly for Steveson to sign with the UFC in a developmental deal that would see the Olympian gain experience on the regional scene before fighting for a contract on Dana White‘s Contender Series. This is an arrangement similar to what Greg Hardy agreed to when signing with the promotion in 2018. However, Steveson was apparently so focused on his new undertaking with the WWE that he wasn’t even aware of any of this.
“We never talked about that, so I have no clue,” Steveson said of the UFC’s reported plans.
Do you think Gable Steveson made the right decision by signing with the WWE instead of an MMA promotion like the UFC?