Gina Carano and 5 MMA Fighters Turned Movie Actors
With the action flick Haywire hitting the silver screens, Gina “Conviction” Carano could soon be the biggest MMA star to venture into thespianism.
Carano, who hasn’t fought since losing in a title bout to former Strikeforce featherweight champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos in 2009, has for the best part been trying her hand at acting.
She won’t be the first mixed martial artist to make that trip from the fighting arena to celluloid and she most definitely will not be the last.
Let’s walk the red carpet.
5. Oleg Taktarov
Oleg “The Russian Bear” Taktarov is a retired mixed martial artist and a supreme jiu-jitsu practitioner with 14 of his 17 career wins coming via submission.
Even though Taktarov has been a film actor since 1997, most of his roles have been minor ones.
Be that as it may, some of his films which are worthy of note include National Treasure (Nicolas Cage and Diane Kruger), Bad Boys ll (Will Smith and Martin Lawrence), We Own the Night (Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg), Righteous Kill (Robert Deniro and Al Pacino) and Predators where he plays Nikolai, a Russian commander.
At present, he has a film in post-production titled Officer Down, starring Dominic Purcell and James Woods.
He may never get the starring roles, but he sure as hell puts himself out there.
4. Cung Le
Cung “The Human Highlight Reel” Le is one of three former world titlists on this list.
Le first starred in several low-budget movies such as Sleight of Hand and Dark Assassin before getting his break in Fighting, where he played the character Dragon Lee alongside Channing Tatum, Terrence Howard and Luiz Guzman in a tale about underground street fighting.
He also co-starred in the science fiction thriller Pandorum as well as the flick Tekken where he assumed the role of Marshall Law, a dishonored martial artist.
The former Strikeforce middleweight champion has on occasion taken time away from the sport to concentrate on his acting career, leading some to question whether his heart is really in the sport.
Nonetheless, Le’s last fight took place at UFC 139—his debut for the Zuffa-based promotion.
His return to the MMA fold, however, was not a successful one, as he lost to Wanderlei Silva via second-round TKO, and if that wasn’t bad enough, Le also suffered a horrific broken nose which prompted Silva to say:
He's a really good fighter, he's a tough, tough guy. Right now with that nose, he's going to make more money in Hollywood because now he looks like a more real fighter. He should thank me for making his nose look better. For his job, it's so good.
Whether that works or not is left to be seen.
Still, Le has four major films in the pipeline for 2012—Dragon Eyes, The Grandmasters, The Man with the Iron Fists and Dragon Eyes 2: Fist of the Dragon.
3. Randy Couture
The former two-division UFC champion who retired from the sport following a KO loss to Lyoto Machida at UFC 129 is no newbie to the world of cinema.
Randy “The Natural” Couture’s celluloid debut was as a fighter in the 2003 flick Cradle 2 the Grave featuring martial artist Jet Li and rapper DMX.
He also starred in features such as Red Belt, Big Stan and The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior—the latter two sadly went direct to DVD (maybe due to Couture’s atrocious acting).
His biggest claim to fame, however, has to be the ensemble action thriller The Expendables which was written and directed by he of the Rocky fame—Sylvester Stallone.
The cast included Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, “Stone Cold,” Jason Statham and Stallone himself, whilst Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger made cameo appearances.
As for Couture, well he played the part of demolitions expert Toll Road.
The Nogueira brothers, Antonio Rodrigo and Antonio Rogério also got in on the act as bodyguards to evil dictator General Garza.
“Captain America” also co-starred alongside Bruce Willis, Ryan Phillippe Ryan and 50 Cent in the heist Setup, another straight to DVD film.
As Couture is officially in retirement, the acting world is his oyster and he already has several films in post-production and production—Geezers (comedy), Hijacked and Expendables 2 where he reprises his role as Toll Road.
That said, with a documentary in post-production titled Once I was Champion, it’s safe to say that The Natural is going to be a busy man in 2012.
Randy Couture’s Filmography
2. Quinton Jackson
The former Pride and UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson started off slow with regards to his acting vocation.
However, things took a turn for the better, when in 2010 he co-starred alongside Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper as “B. A” (Bad Attitude) Baracus in a movie based on the 1980s television series The A-Team.
The film didn’t receive critical acclaim, but it was a start.
Prior to that, Rampage had starred in some not so fantastic films, like Miss March, The Midnight Meat Train, Never Surrender and Death Warrior.
In addition to his boisterous character and the exposure Rampage has garnered thus far, he could be in line for more film offers, like upcoming movies Fire with Fire and Duel of Legends, which are due for release in 2012.
Quinton Jackson’s Filmography
1. Gina Carano
The former face of women’s MMA, Gina “Conviction” Carano has taken mixed martial artists come actor to a whole new level.
Not only does she star in Steven Soderbergh’s action thriller Haywire, she’s also the lead protagonist in a cast consisting of such acting royalty as Michael Douglas (Wall Street), Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method), Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting), Antonio Banderas (Evita) and Bill Paxton (Apollo 13).
In the film, Carano plays freelance covert operative Mallory Kane who is double-crossed and thus sets out to wreak havoc on those responsible.
Haywire isn’t Carano’s first film, that honor belongs to 2009 straight to DVD fight fest Blood and Bone where she plays female fighter Veretta Vendetta alongside Kimbo Slice and Bob Sapp.
As things stand, Ms. Carano is keeping quiet as to whether or not she’ll ever graced an MMA cage again.
Still, if Carano does decides to hang up her gloves and go full time into the movie business, I’m sure she won’t want for offers.
According to IMDb, rumor has it that Gina Carano could yet again assume a lead role in a film, the movie in question is Perry Jackson & the Olympians: The Sea Monsters which is in pre-production.
Haywire is set to hit the screens on Jan. 20, 2012
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