3 WWE Wrestlers and 3 UFC Fighters Who Could Switch Sports
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but professional wrestling and MMA had some high-profile crossover in 2016. Between Brock Lesnar making a surprise return at UFC 200 in a one-off against Mark Hunt, to CM Punk making his long-awaited debut a few months later, to Conor McGregor creating controversy by mocking WWE wrestlers, it seemed like the two companies were making each other’s headlines all year long.
And even before the last year, there’s a lot of historical precedent for crossover between them. From Shamrock and Severn being early UFC champions as well as WWE wrestlers, all the way up to Ronda Rousey’s spot at Wrestlemania 31.
So, in the spirit of that, today we’re going to look at three WWE wrestlers and three UFC fighters who could attempt to cross over and try their hand at the other industry.
Number 3: Baron Corbin
Kicking the list off with three WWE wrestlers who could (have) tried their hand at MMA is Baron Corbin. The biggest problem we’re going to run into on this half of the list is age. Baron Corbin is relatively young for a professional wrestler in the WWE, but he’s 32. And nobody starts an MMA career at 32. But, had Corbin decided to go a different route, he very well could have been an MMA fighter. A massive individual at 6’6 and 270 lbs, Baron Corbin would be considered huge even compared to most other UFC heavyweights. His legit athletic background in professional football indicates a high athletic pedigree, and on top of that, he’s dabbled (and been successful) in amateur boxing. Surely the UFC could find use for a huge, athletic heavyweight striker.
Number 2: Samoa Joe
Joe again runs into the problem of age, being 37 years old. However, the guy currently avidly trains in a bunch of martial arts with some very high level partners. He trains regularly with (and attends the fights of) guys like Tito Ortiz, Kendall Grove and Cris “Cyborg” Justino. His wrestling style makes great use of his MMA training, and his matches often feature many legitimate techniques such as leg kicks, guard passes, rear naked and triangle chokes, and so on. Could you imagine his music playing as he walks towards the octagon? Simply thrilling.
Number 1: Shinsuke Nakamura
As many wrestling fans probably know, Shinsuke Nakamura did participate in MMA from 2002-2004, compiling a record of 3-1-1. All three of his victories came by way of submission, and his one loss was to a member of the legendary Gracie family. He is a bit past his athletic prime at 36 years old, but the difference between him and the other guys on this list is that he isn’t starting completely from scratch. The Japanese Strong Style that he employs bears some similarity to MMA, and he’s trained (and, as we’ve established a moment ago, competed) in the sport before. At 6’1-ish and 220 pounds, Shinsuke would most likely find his weight class at either middleweight or light heavyweight, both divisions that need an injection of new blood. While he is still too old to be making a career switch at this point, his past in the sport indicates that if it’s what he had put his mind to early on, he could have been a great MMA fighter.
Number 3: Jon Jones
Now, I’m not going to say Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey, because those answers are really obvious, and you deserve better than that, reader. I would list Chael Sonnen, but he doesn’t fight for the UFC anymore, and this is a list of UFC fighters, and I’m going to stick to my convictions, dammit. Anyhow, starting off this section of the list is Jon Jones. Jones has been kicking ass and getting into legal trouble, earning ire and respect among MMA fans for years now. What’s indisputable, though, is that he is a tremendous athlete (and fighter, when he wants to be). He could come to the WWE and be a tremendous heel, playing into the stuck-up attitude and sense of entitlement many fans perceive in him. He’s funny, too. Does anybody remember the press conference where Jones pretended that he couldn’t hear Daniel Cormier, making him repeat himself over and over? Or the hallway confrontation where Jones refused to respond to anything that Cormier said, just insisting “You suck” at his rival? On the flip side, he could be a very intimidating force as a professional wrestler, as well. He could play on his legitimate sports background and tear people apart with technical precision as either a face or heel.
Number 2: Michael Bisping
Sporting a dry British wit that has led to many memorable MMA trash-talking moments, Michael Bisping has organically become one of the premier heels in legitimate combat sports. A tremendous draw, especially among British audiences, the UFC has repeatedly put their faith in Bisping as a hero for those east of the Atlantic. Appearing in 27 UFC fights (Tied for most of all time), and working as the headliner for 12 of those, Bisping has proved his ability to generate interest and get people tuning in for his fights. There’s no reason to think the same wouldn’t apply to him as a WWE wrestler.
Number 1: Daniel Cormier
Daniel Cormier is a massive professional wrestling fan. He and I once talked about Kevin Owens on Facebook, and he told me that he was really sad that it took Finn Balor getting injured for the WWE to put the belt on Owens. Cormier is entertaining on the microphone (“Get your shit together” is a very underrated line in the history of MMA trash talk), personable and relatable, and sports a high athletic pedigree, being a two time Olympian. All that is aided by the fact that if the opportunity presented itself, I’m sure he would love the chance to hop over to the world of the WWE due to his own fandom.
So, that’s my list. Do you agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below, and thanks for reading.