Neil Best throws down MMA debut challenge to James Haskell 3 years ago

Neil Best throws down MMA debut challenge to James Haskell

"I'm always available."


Former Wasps, England and Lions flanker James Haskell only hung up his rugby boots over the summer but he is continuing on the professional sporting path by signing up for a Mixed Martial Arts stint with Bellator.

Haskell has been using MMA fighting to keep fight, and work on different skill sets, for the past seven years and can call on British star Michael 'Venom' Page as one of his training partners.

Haskell, who is part of the UK's House of Rugby show, is expected to make his Bellator debut in the first part of 2020 and is itching to pit his fighting wits against some of the promotion's top heavyweights.

On the latest episode of Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby [from 48:30 below], Barry Murphy, Andrew Trimble and Jerry Flannery proposed what would be a perfect tune-up fight for Haskell, against an Irish rugby cult hero.


The proposed Bellator tilt the lads are suggesting is Haskell going up against former Ulster and Ireland flanker Neil Best, who has been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for over a year now.

Trimble believes Haskell could have a similar gift-of-the-gab that has done wonders for the likes of Conor McGregor and Chael Sonnen in the past.


"PR-wise," he began, "I think that's... he's a dream, isn't he not? Just turn up at a press conference. He'll be entertaining."

The trio discussed the 34-year-old's first steps into the professional MMA scene and even suggested an opponent that could test his skills.

FLANNERY: I think he, he's mentioned that he's trained [in MMA]. He loves training and he's trained MMA and that. Maybe grappling. But I didn't think he was going to go into this. But, another opportunity for him to get his top off, isn't it? Which I'm sure he's keen for.

TRIMBLE: The fear. Like, if you were new to that and you were going into your first fight. Like I think, even, you chat to people who've done that white collar boxing and the fear just kicks in - 'Right, I could get my head kicked in here'. But even more so, times 10 even for MMA, especially if he goes in with someone who's established or...

FLANNERY: You know what would be a great fight? Would be Neil Best and James Haskell. I would have my money on Neil Best for that one.

TRIMBLE: I think I would too, yeah. Oh, he's rock hard.

FLANNERY: He wouldn't be in... I don't know what kind of nick he's in now.

TRIMBLE: He's still in decent shape.

FLANNERY: Oh but he's an animal, man!

That would certainly be a needle-mover and Best has already raised his hand for the bout:


Haskell is set for a Tuesday evening appearance on House of Rugby (UK) so no doubt he will reveal more on his MMA ambitions.

He may even respond to Best and his #CantCoachHeart challenge.




The latest episodes sees Barry Murphy, Andrew Trimble and Jerry Flannery look back on Ireland's chastening loss to England and discuss a Munster Royal Rumble.