When legendary martial arts superstar Bruce Lee was recently announced as the secret character in the upcoming video game “EA Sports UFC 2014,” it not surprisingly sparked the debate as to whether or not the Jeet Kune Do founder could have been effective in the Octagon.
It’s obviously a topic that is highly up to interpretation, but one man who knows a lot about ‘The Dragon’ recently spoke up to MMA Nation to voice his opinion that both he and Lee would have held their own inside an MMA cage. Check out the timeless and invincible Chuck Norris’ words:
"Of course MMA wasn't in existence when Bruce and I were training, and when I was fighting. Even though we fought bare fisted during our competition, and we had a lot of injuries, but it wasn't an MMA style fighting.
I have to say, being confident in myself, that I feel I would have done very well in the MMA arena, because of my Judo training. I was a black belt in Judo, plus I had multiple black belts in karate, Tae Kwon Do, Tang Soo Do, and so forth.
Plus I studied Jiu-Jitsu with Gene LeBell back in the early 60s and 70s, so I felt I was pretty well-rounded, and really credit that for the success I had in the ring in my competitive days. And so I feel I would have done well, and I think Bruce would have too.”
At 74 years old, Norris was and is a well-rounded martial artist with multiple black belts, but it’s interesting to hear him cite his judo expertise above all else as the reason he would be successful in MMA.
Fellow LeBell protégé Ronda Rousey now rules the UFC women’s bantamweight division with an iron fist thanks in large to her Olympic-level judo, so Norris may be on to something.
Regardless, we’ll never know if he or Lee could have legitimately competed as MMA fighters. However, they did have the overall mix of skills that was definitely a precursor to the polished, well-rounded athletes that find success in the Octagon today.
Norris also proclaimed that Lee had an affinity for nonstop training, something that is often seen in today’s MMA:
"He was a fanatical trainer. When he and I would work out, we'd work out for three or four hours in his backyard in Culver City, California, and after we finished working out, we'd go into the living room, and I'd sit down on the couch and his wife Linda would bring me a glass of iced tea.
Well Bruce would drop down to the floor and start doing crunches. I said 'Bruce, there's times to relax too, you need to relax as well because you'll burn that engine out if you keep right on training all the time.”
Norris’ words echo many aspects of today’s evolving MMA landscape, proving that he and Lee were indeed ahead of their time concerning the martial arts. How do you think Lee and Norris would have fared in the UFC?