WWE: 10 Stars of the UFC and MMA Who Could Make the Transition to Pro Wrestling
Immediately following a first-round TKO defeat at the hands of Alistair Overeem last month, former UFC and WWE Champion Brock Lesnar announced his retirement from the octagon.
Since that announcement, speculation about a return to professional wrestling and WWE has spread across the Internet.
From a WrestleMania rematch with Bill Goldberg, to a pro-style bout in Japan with Fedor Emelianenko, wrestling dirt sheets abound with rumors concerning the fighter once dubbed "The Next Big Thing" by Paul Heyman and just what his next big move will be.
Whether or not he returns to wrestling remains to be seen, but the world of MMA is wrought with talented athletes and personalities that could potentially make the jump.
Here are 10 other stars of the sport that could transition to WWE.
10. Cung Le
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Cung Le burst onto the MMA scene in 2006 after eight years of kickboxing domination in K-1 and other promotions.
Using his unorthodox technique, the Vietnamese-born striker was able to capture the Strikeforce Middleweight championship and, more recently, made his UFC debut in a bout with Wanderlei Silva last November.
Away from the octagon, Le has allowed his personality and acting ability to shine in performances in the films Pandorum, Fighting, and during Season 4 of The Jace Hall Show, where he found himself locked in an epic showdown with ninjas.
The potential for contests with Kofi Kingston, Evan Bourne, Daniel Bryan and other lightweight, "fleet of foot" Superstars if he were to make the transition to WWE is intriguing.
9. Bob Sapp
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Bob Sapp is no stranger to the world of professional wrestling. At various times over the last decade, the K-1 standout nicknamed "The Beast" has appeared in the squared circle.
In 2004, he became one of the few foreign-born grapplers to win the IWGP Heavyweight title (with Lesnar being one of the others) in New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Standing at 6'4" and nearly 350 pounds, Sapp would be an imposing figure inside a WWE ring in much the same way that the Big Show and Mark Henry are. Additionally, he has achieved superstar status in Japan.
As evidenced by their signing of Sin Cara last year, the boosting of their global profile is a growing priority within WWE, and Sapp's Japanese stardom could be another boon to the promotion's credibility abroad.
8. Chael Sonnen
The man many consider to be the arch-rival of reigning UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen has never been afraid to mix it up on the microphone.
His post-fight interview with Joe Rogan following a dominating submission victory over Brian Stann at UFC 136 lives in infamy.
Before Vince McMahon put the nix on it, current WWE champion CM Punk was slated to accompany Sonnen to the octagon for his fight against Mark Muñoz, Jan. 28 in Punk's hometown of Chicago.
Once Sonnen is finished with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the two could be tag team partners.
Or, better yet, opponents.
7. Frank Shamrock
A four-time defending and undefeated UFC Light Heavyweight champion and my personal favorite on this list, Frank Shamrock redefined what it meant to be a mixed martial artist in the '90s and early 2000s.
His regimen in the gym and cross-training in different disciplines/techniques and sports set the standard for a new generation of fighters in MMA and the UFC.
The adoptive brother of UFC legend and former WWE Intercontinental Champion Ken Shamrock, Frank has also set the standard for creating controversy inside the ring and on the microphone.
His brash, confident style, tendency to taunt opponents during matches, and no-holds-barred approach to interviews and commentary would be right at home on RAW or Smackdown.
6. Tito Ortiz
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The "Huntington Beach Bad Boy" was involved in a legendary feud with Ken Shamrock and his Lion's Den.
His match with Frank Shamrock at UFC 22 is widely regarded as one of the greatest fights in MMA history.
He held the UFC Light Heavyweight championship from April 2000 to the fall of 2003.
Oh, and he's married to Jenna Jameson.
Tito Ortiz has stated that he will retire after his next fight and given his previous involvement with TNA Wrestling (he served twice as the special guest referee for NWA World Heavyweight title bouts), it's not unfathomable that he could appear there again or even for the WWE once his UFC career is over.
5. Kimbo Slice
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Kimbo Slice (real name Kevin Ferguson) became a media sensation after several of his unsanctioned street fights were distributed online via YouTube and the adult web site SublimeDirectory.
He made his debut in mixed martial arts in 2007 and competed with much fanfare in EliteXC and also UFC, where he was a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights.
After mixed results in MMA, Kimbo has moved on to professional boxing and acting, but his mystique, drawing power, rags-to-riches story, and unique/intimidating look could mean big business for WWE.
I would personally pay to see him in a big, pay-per-view bout with Triple H, John Cena or the Undertaker.
4. Mike Goldberg
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Mike Goldberg is the voice of UFC in much the same way that Michael Cole has become the voice of WWE. Ironically, it was Goldberg who very nearly became WWE's lead play-by-play man when the company offered him a lucrative contract to take over for Jim Ross in 2005.
Goldberg ultimately turned down the offer and remained with Zuffa and the UFC, but with Michael Cole's heel persona being featured more prominently on WWE programming each week, Goldberg could provide a respected and credible voice to the in-ring action while allowing Cole to focus more on his on-screen character.
3. Gina Carano
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The star of the upcoming Steven Soderbegh action-thriller Haywire, Gina Carano is a dynamo in the world of entertainment and was a pioneer for women's MMA.
Her killer combination of elite kickboxing skills and uber-hotness garnered an unparalleled level of attention for female competition within the sport.
Carano later appeared with Hulk Hogan as Crush on the last iteration of American Gladiators and has done voice-over work and guest appearances for various video-game, television and film projects.
If Carano signed on with WWE, she would be the first bona fide star for the Divas division since Sable's heyday during the Attitude era. They wouldn't even have to digitally alter her voice!
2. Chuck Liddell
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For nearly a decade, "The Iceman" Chuck Liddell achieved a level of dominance perhaps never seen before (or since) in the UFC.
During that run from 1999 to 2007, he defeated a veritable who's-who of MMA's elite, from Randy Couture to Tito Ortiz to Vitor Belfort en route to becoming the sixth inductee to the UFC Hall of Fame.
It was also during this run that the Ultimate Fighting Championship emerged onto the mainstream, with Liddell as its figurehead.
Throughout his career and since his retiring from active competition, he has appeared in a multitude of films and television programs. With his acting chops, street cred, and the appearance of a WWE Superstar, the Iceman could be a featured attraction for WWE.
1. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
Perhaps no fighter embodies everything that goes into being a WWE Superstar more than Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.
He dominated Chuck Liddell on two occasions, rocked the UFC Light Heavyweight division, and succeeded Mr. T in portraying B.A. Baracus in the 2010 film adaptation of The A-Team.
From the chains around his neck, to his pre-fight howling, to the sheer intensity and showmanship he brings to each matchup, Rampage is tailor-made for Vince McMahon's brand of sports entertainment.
A run at the WWE title or big match with an iconic WWE Superstar like John Cena or the Rock would be a dream scenario for WWE fans and would inevitably garner major coverage from the mainstream entertainment and sporting press.