Pro Wrestlers who have tried their hand at mma

It may surprise some that there is so much overlap between the world of MMA and professional wrestling. MMA is purely a competitive combat sport. Wrestling is pre-determined performance art. It’s some strange combination of Pairs Figure Skating and Hollywood fight choreography. Why does this overlap exist? Part of it likely has to do with that many people are fans of both sports. An MMA fan may be an avid follower of the latest wrestling news and vice versa.

In a lot of cases, professional wrestlers are strong individuals with a background in amateur wrestling or some other combat sport. You have to be strong and athletic in order to throw your opponents around or do a no-hands flying somersault plancha to the outside of the ring.

Here are some WWE wrestlers that have tried their hand at MMA

CM Punk

CM Punk is a cautionary tale. Just because you want something badly enough, it doesn’t mean you will necessarily get it. Punk was never supposed to succeed at the level he did in WWE. He just wasn’t a Vince McMahon kind of guy. He was not overly muscular, small, and covered in tattoos.

CM Punk willed his way into a main event position through sheer talent in the ring and on the microphone. He was able to develop so strong a connection with the fanbase that he would not be denied.

And yet, he was never the chosen one. John Cena was, so try as he might, Punk never reached that top spot. In 2014, he left WWE on bad terms.

His status as a former WWE superstar gave him a lot of crossover appeal in MMA. Punk was signed to the UFC, which was a mistake for everyone involved. Punk had no combat sports background. He was not a young guy, and he was training from scratch. It wasn’t entirely his fault though. UFC selected an experienced MMA fighter as his opponent. Things did not go well.

After a second fight against an opponent that still outmatched him, CM Punk was seemingly done with the UFC.

Bobby Lashley

Bobby Lashley is a physical freak. He is exactly the Vince McMahon type in terms of look. It is a little surprising he never quite reached the top of the mountain in WWE like Brock Lesnar. Oh, he certainly came close, but his best work was actually in Impact Wrestling, where he developed a great monster heel character.

He has also had a robust MMA career, with a record of 15-2. He has fought in Strikeforce, Bellator, and a few other promotions as well. All-in-all, a fairly successful career that may not be over yet.

Jack Swagger

If you’ve been following MMA news lately, you’ll know that Jack Swagger (competing as Jake Hager) recently made his Bellator debut. A former NCAA All-American wrestler, he brought that experience to his first fight and won it decisively via submission.

As Jack Swagger, he once won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. However, this reign was generally considered to be a failure, as he did not connect with the fans. Since then, he was a successful midcard act until his departure in 2017.

Dave Batista

This man is the triple threat. Professional Wrestler. Actor. MMA Fighter. Best known as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy and the most recent Avengers film, Batista has carved out a niche for himself as a successful actor in Hollywood.

Prior to that, he was a main-event level wrestler in WWE that held multiple world titles.

He also dipped his toe in the MMA pool, participating in one Strikeforce fight where he defeated 40-year-old Vince Lucero.

Brock Lesnar

Ah yes, the gold standard. Anyone that knows anything about Wrestling or MMA has likely heard of Brock Lesnar. He has attained the pinnacle of both industries. In WWE, he started in 2002 and won the WWE championship in his very first year. From there, he stayed in and around the main event until a dispute with management in 2004.

In 2008, he joined the UFC and won the Heavyweight Championship there as well, becoming a tremendous draw in the process. After running into health issues, he returned to WWE, where is one of the highest paid performers. He currently holds one of their world titles and wrestles occasionally.