Ever since mixed martial arts, and UFC in particular, went mainstream years ago, there have been constant comparisons drawn between the combat sport and professional wrestling.
While the two are actually very different, there's no denying that there are many underlying concepts that tie the two together, especially when you take a look at the fanbase and nature of both sports. Both heavily cater to the 18-40 male demographic (with WWE also going for a younger audience) and they both are based on fights between two (or sometimes more in WWE's case) athletes.
As we all know, professional wrestling is scripted, which many UFC diehards use to try to discredit the sport. More educated fans realize the amount of athletic ability and acting that goes into making the world of professional wrestling work.
UFC is not that much different. MMA fighters are some of the most athletic performers in the world, and many of them have grown to learn how to promote their fights via trash talk and other forms of showmanship, the same way WWE Superstars do on a weekly basis.
With that in mind as we inch closer to UFC 141 on Friday night, here's a look at 15 UFC fighters who could make the transition to the world of professional wrestling. Whether it is their athletic abilities, their personalities, or a combination of both, these guys would make for entertaining Monday and Friday nights.
Let me know what you think by sounding off in the comments below, or follow me on Twitter (@TheOneTC) and hit me up there.
UFC Ultimate Fighter Season 8 winner Ryan Bader has proven that he is one tough competitor in the Octagon.
He came into UFC with an undefeated record, and his only blemishes have come at the hands of Tito Ortiz and current UFC light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones.
His look and physique alone could probably get him into WWE, as he fights at 205 lbs and walks around a even heavier, though his nickname "Darth" is pretty awesome as well.
Bader also has a solid collegiate wrestling background, having wrestled for Arizona State, placing as high as fourth in the country in 2004.
Standing 6'5" and weighing 260 lbs, Alistair Overeem is one of the most intimidating fighters to ever come to UFC. The Dutch fighter is set to compete in one of the biggest (literally) fights in UFC history when he faces off against former WWE and UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar on Friday, December 30.
Imagine if those two stepped into a WWE ring and had a full, scripted match to work with. Can you imagine Lesnar lifting Overeem up for an F5? Or Overeem hitting Lesnar with an equally impressive finisher?
The 12 year fight veteran is also a K-1 kickboxing champion, which means that he has the abilities to match up with his intimidating looks.
Georges St-Pierre, or "GSP," as he is commonly known, is widely regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in mixed martial arts history. He is the current UFC welterweight champion and is on a nine-fight win streak. The only two losses on his 22-2 professional record have come from UFC legend Matt Serra and UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes, both of which have been avenged.
GSP is a first-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has a solid wrestling background. He has even mentioned the possibility of trying out for the 2012 Canadian Olympic freestyle wrestling team.
Even though he has been so dominant, he has remained one of the most popular fighters in UFC. He has quieted loudmouths such as Josh Koscheck and Dan Hardy, all while remaining humble in each victory.
His quiet and polite attitude matched with his dominant, well-rounded performances would make him a perfect babyface in WWE.
Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell is one of the most widely recognized names in mixed martial arts history. Though he has since retired from fighting, the UFC Hall of Famer has assumed the position of Vice President of Business Development within the UFC.
Liddell has the same sort of vibe as Triple H. He's been through the gauntlet, he's familiar and popular with all the fans and he has a personal stake in the company.
In WWE, he would be able to continue to perform, something that he couldn't do in UFC any longer. Again, he could pull off that Triple H-type character, where he could be part-businessman, part-ass-kicker.
The Polish-born Krzysztof Soszynski is a monster in the cage, and could be in the ring as well.
He is only 6'1" and fights at 205 lbs, but he looks like a slightly smaller version of Brock Lesnar. His amazing strength and versatility have netted him a 6-3 record in UFC.
Soszynski actually has a professional wrestling background. In his early 20s, Soszynski worked as a pro wrestler in Canada, training under Bad News Brown. This is where he first discovered mixed martial arts, especially judo and jiu-jitsu.
With his former background and obvious athletic talent, not to mention the "big guy" look that Vince McMahon loves so much, Soszynski would be a great fit for WWE.
Clay Guida is one of the most energetic fighters you will ever see. I have watched him in fights where he has gone all three rounds, 15 minutes of intense fighting, and still left the Octagon bouncing around like he was walking out to his entrance music.
He also looks like he could be one of the most intense, high-flying cruiserweights to ever step foot in WWE, were he ever to make the move. His seemingly endless supply of energy, as well as his crazy looks, would make him an instant fan favorite.
Seeing a team of brothers fight in UFC is rare. Sure, many UFC fighters have siblings who are also fighters, but most of them are in other leagues, or still fighting under amateur status. That's not the case for Nike and Nate Diaz.
Just like the Hardys, the Steiners or the Harts, the Diaz brothers are widely known throughout the world of mixed martial arts.
Also like many WWE brothers (real or storyline), one Diaz brother has seemed to rise above the other slightly, as Nick Diaz is the current No. 1 contender for the UFC welterweight championship, whereas Nate has lost two of his last three fights.
However, they stand by each other as members of the Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu team. The two have even gotten into fist fights with other fighters (outside of the cage) after defending another team member.
This attitude and mentality would make for a perfect WWE tag team, and would be much better than everything WWE has right now.
Forrest Griffin is, hands down, one of the funniest people on the planet. He has written two books, the first entitled 50 Zen Principles of Hand-to-Face Combat and Be Ready When The Sh*t Goes Down: A Survival Guide to the Apocalypse. The photo above is from the cover of the second book.
Here's a little snippet from Forrest's second book where he talks about volcanoes.
Regular volcanoes like Mount St. Helens and Mount Vesuvius are usually shaped like nipples or penises (whichever you prefer), and as magna boils inside, pressure builds until one day they erupt and spew molten rock out of their blow-hole. Super-volcanoes, despite being exponentially larger, do not have the traditional cones. Instead they are largely hidden beneath the surface of the earth.
If the shape of a regular volcano can be described as a nipple or penis, super-volcanoes should be described as a giant, yawning butthole.
Imagine the promos that Griffin could cut. He's funny, but he can kick some serious butt at the same time. He would be like Santino Marella, only without the constant losing.
No man in UFC takes as much punishment and keeps going back for more than Chris Leben.
His 22-8 record includes major wins including a victory over former PRIDE champion, Wanderlei Silva. Leben also scored two quick wins after he stepped for an injured Wanderlei Silva and defeated Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 116 only two weeks after defeating Aaron Simpson.
Someone with this degree of toughness would certainly be a welcomed addition to WWE's hectic schedule. Fighting week after week is something that many people would not want to do, but Leben probably would if he could.
Not to mention that he just looks nuts as it is. He dyes his hair weird colors and paints his fingernails—heck, he fits in with WWE already.
The 12th season of The Ultimate Fighter was a perfect example of a real-life heel going up against a real-life face. Josh Koscheck was that heel.
Throughout the season, Koscheck taunted his opponent, Georges St-Pierre, claiming that he would embarrass the UFC welterweight champion in his hometown of Montreal.
Koscheck had also gotten under the skin of the Canadians themselves after trash-talking about the Montreal Canadiens after a win over Paul Daley at UFC 113 in Montreal.
Koscheck would make the perfect heel in professional wrestling. Fans would (and do) love to hate him, and they would (and still do) buy tickets and PPVs just to watch him get beat up.
Though he is currently on a four-fight losing streak, Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy still boasts an impressive 23-10-1 record. He was also one of the better trash-talkers in UFC (before he started to get beat up on a regular basis).
Trash talk is something that would work in Hardy's favor if he were to even jump on the pro wrestling train. He is also the first English fighter to ever receive a UFC title shot, and his heritage would carry over well in WWE, as all English superstars seem to be heels.
But it is his look that really makes him look like a pro wrestler. The two-toned mohawk, the crazy tattoos...he even has a "tag team partner."
Let's take a look at that partner...
If that mullet doesn't scream pro wrestling, then I don't know what does.
Yes, Dan Hardy and Roy Nelson have declared (via Twitter) that they are tag team partners, named—what else?—Hawk and Mullet.
A tweet from @roynelsonmma...
going back to vegas boarding plane now with @danhardymma we have been working on our tag team moves , hawk, and mullet.
Nelson was also rumored to have been in talks with WWE at one point in the past. When he was tied up with a bad contract from another promotion and unable to compete in UFC, Nelson's camp expressed interest in having him wrestle for WWE. The talks eventually turned into nothing and Nelson returned to UFC.
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson, better known by everyone as "Rampage," is a character suited for WWE already.
Rampage picks a fight with just about every other fighter he is set to go up against, and has done so in the past against Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin and Wanderlei Silva. He has created this "Rampage" persona, which is different from his normal, private life.
He said in UFC Magazine about his time spent in Japan as a fighter for PRIDE that in Japan he was known as Rampage, but he could escape back home where nobody knew him as a fighter and become Quinton.
Rampage would be another great heel character for WWE, and the slams he would be able to perform in the ring would be something WWE fans have never seen.
Rampage has also taken a step into acting, something many WWE superstars are now doing, including his major role in The A-Team movie, where he played B.A. Baracus.
Tito Ortiz is the original bad boy of professional mixed martial arts. He has gone from obnoxious heel, to fan favorite and back several times, and he has done this without the aide of writers or charachter development, it's just who he is.
Tito has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind. During his feud with Ken Shamrock, he frequently talked trash to the UFC legend, and after defeating him at UFC Fight Night 6.5, pretended to dig a grave and flipped Shamrock off.
However, Ortiz is now back trying to get on the fans' good side. He made somewhat of a comeback after defeating Ryan Bader, earning his first win in over four years, and has shown support to his fans. Personally, I met him at the UFC Fan Expo in Boston, and he was probably the second nicest fighter I met (behind only Roy Nelson).
Ortiz also has a pro wrestling background. In 2005 Ortiz worked as a special guest referee on three occasions for TNA Wrestling. Once at Hard Justice, once on an episode of Impact, and once at Bound For Glory.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, talks more trash in UFC than Chael Sonnen. UFC President Dana White has even gone on record saying that "I've never seen anyone who can talk like this guy can since Muhammad Ali. Seriously. Since Muhammad Ali—the stuff that just comes right off the top of his head, and is hilarious. And you don't know what's real and what's not real."
Sounds like the perfect WWE superstar to me.
Sonnen talked his biggest trash game (and almost backed it up) when he was set to face off with fan-favorite and UFC Middleweight Champion, Anderson Silva. Even though he beat Silva up for four full rounds, he ended up getting caught in a triangle choke and had to tap out. However, that didn't stop him from talking more trash later that night.
At the press conference after the fight, Sonnen said "I should be the reigning champion. I punch a guy 300 times, he punches me a couple and they call him the champion? In what parallel universe does that make you the winner? I am the champion. I've been the champion. Anderson's ribs have the exact same problem that his hands and his feet have, they're attached to a cowardly person."
Sonnen has also poked fun at one of the UFC ring girls...
"We only had one [ring girl] and that was Chandella [Powell]. The other was the IQ card girl. Arianny [Celeste] kind of walks around and holds up her latest test score. One time when there was a title fight, she got all the way up to five and we were very proud of her."
If only some WWE superstars could learn to talk like this.