How many sports movies can you name off of the top of your head? It doesn't matter how old the film is or what its target demographic may be.
From Raging Bull to The Sandlot to Any Given Sunday, Hollywood has done a great job of creating characters who go on to live in our minds as sports heroes.
Now, answer that same question, but only name movies about mixed martial arts.
While sports like football and baseball have a long relationship with moviegoers, it has been less than a decade since big-budget movies about legitimate mixed martial arts competition have been around.
Things have changed. Actors like Kevin James, Terrence Howard and Channing Tatum have been part of the move towards mainstream and with legitimate Hollywood A-listers on board, the continued growth of MMA is undisputable.
With the James-led Here Comes The Boom currently in theaters, we've decided to take a look at the best characters from Hollywood that would make great fighters.
In 1988, jiu-jitsu wasn't exactly on the minds of American cinema fans. So when Mel Gibson's character, Martin Riggs, utilizes a triangle choke to win a fight against Gary Busey, few recognized the technique as one that would later serve a sport that surpassed boxing as the leader in hand-to-hand combat.
With a clear understanding of grappling, Riggs would be one of few characters who would compete as a well-rounded fighter inside the Octagon.
In this clip from the film, listen to Holmes describe his attack. Clearly, every strike he throws has an intended purpose. No movement is wasted. His efficient style of offense makes him a nightmare in the striking department.
Watch the film closely for a rear naked choke and an armbar that suggests Mr. Holmes may have solved the case of jiu-jitsu wizardry.
Loud mouth plus heavy hands and the ability to knock out any man put in front of him, boxer Clubber Lang is the only man to knock out Rocky Balboa. What could he do if he were to focus his energy on mixed martial arts?
Before you start with your Rampage Jackson comments, remember that B.A. Baracus and Clubber Lang are two different characters portrayed by the same man.
However, a fight between Clubber and Rampage would be the greatest thing in the history of MMA.
You mean the character who is an MMA star should compete in MMA? Get out of town!
While this one isn't a stretch by any means, Tommy Conlon is built like a tank, soft-spoken and one of the most dangerous men to ever step foot into the cage.
Before entering the tournament that Warrior is centered around, Conlon was a sparring partner at a gym that happened to feature a world ranked fighter. Knocking out his foe with minimal effort, he quickly captivated the world before going on to the Sparta competition.
Maybe Bellator should give him a call.
Widely viewed as having the best fight scene in film history, They Live is a film that features two brawling warriors who are too stubborn to give up.
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper stars as John Nada in the sci-fi flick, and he does a good job of pounding Keith David (the stepfather in There's Something About Mary) into the dirt. Throughout their encounter, Nada tells the man that he isn't looking for a fight.
What could he do to someone who he wanted to hurt?
Did you really think Stone Cold Steve Austin wouldn't find a place on this list somehow? Every movie he stars in features him pummeling the skin off of someone's face.
How do you expect to scare this man with prison? He has already been to Hell in a Cell.
Ivan Drago is not only the most feared villain in the famed Rocky franchise, but he is also the most sophistically trained. Using state-of-the-art technology in his workout regimen, as well as some help from a needle or two, were this Russian allowed into the Octagon, there is no doubt that he would put a wallop on any man.
While the big man is strictly a boxer, he has the drive and determination to master a grappling art as well.
Major Payne is a hilarious memory from my childhood, and if you haven't seen it, you should go to Netflix right now.
As a veteran of the marine corps who only finds comfort in killin' those who need killin', Payne is looking for a way to unleash his cold and sadistic attack on any man who crosses him.
If only small-joint manipulation were allowed in unified rules of mixed martial arts.
Alcohol is not a banned substance when entering the Octagon. For that reason, Drunken Master protagonist Wong Fei-Hung (portrayed by Jackie Chan) would be nearly impossible to touch inside the Octagon.
You think Anderson Silva is hard to get a hold of? Look how easily Wong avoids danger in the video above. You'd think the fights are choreographed or something.
To be the man, you have to beat the man. The man who Rocky Balboa once beat in order to become the man is none other than Apollo Creed.
Creed was clearly inspired by the real life antics of Muhammad Ali; however, the character would later become inspiration for MMA athletes around the world.
Not only do you have to be in peak physical condition, but you have to use your brash attitude and arrogance in order to earn that big payday.
Oh, yeah. Creed also has incredible footwork, cardio and packs a mean punch.
Speaking of Carl Weathers, let's look at one of his castmates from a film that came later in his career.
Not even a nail to the head could take down this behemoth of a man like Mr. Larson. What exactly do you think MMA fighters could do that causes more damage than a nail to the head?
Let me say that one more time. Forget a hammer fist. This guy took a nail to the head.
We can only imagine what incredible techniques this monster used to make Shooter MacGavin scream as he was bludgeoned mercilessly. I'm guessing gogoplata, but I've been wrong before.
Steven Seagal taught Anderson Silva the secrets of the front kick. In fact, he invented the kick.
Before the actor and real-life akido master began aiding MMA's greatest fighter, he showed off his fighting skills as Nico Toscani in the breakout film Above The Law.
If you need an explanation as to why Nico should compete in MMA, watch the included video.
What is it about Vinnie Jones that is so thoroughly terrifying? Perhaps it is his "calm before the storm" demeanor that transcends badassery.
Go ahead and Google it. Badassery is a word. Or at least it should be.
As Big Chris, Jones is a musclebound throwback to the glory days of the UFC. With his mallet-sized fists, he will gladly smash your face into tiny pieces.
Don't be rude to him. Trust me.
With training in krav maga and eskrima, many unfortunate victims realized why not to get into an unarmed battle with Jason Bourne.
How do you fight someone who knows what you're going to do before you do? Similar to Anderson Silva, his reflexes are sharp and his instincts are even better.
Bourne Supremacy indeed.
Movie combat is commonly about overcoming a vicious attack from multiple opponents. It may not be entirely realistic, but it creates characters who are perfect for this list.
Although Kham would need to adjust his fighting style to remove incidents of biting and small joint manipulation, his ability to take head and body kicks rapid-fire is rivaled by only Joey Beltran.
Actor Tony Jaa showed off his training in taekwondo, muay thai, aikido and jiu-jitsu in the film, which also makes our protagonist one of the most well-rounded fighters in MMA history.
Usually, I wouldn't include a movie character that is based on a real person. However, for Ben Foster, I was willing to make the exception. After all, this fight scene was created for the movie, as Foster's character was unaware of his brother's kidnapping until much later.
Jake Mazursky is the fictional version of real-life Benjamin Markowitz. Mazursky is the older half-brother of the kidnapping victim and opens a major can of whoop ass in this scene from the film.
Do you know what all of those Rocky villains have in common? Rocky knocked them out.
While Balboa was never the biggest dog in the fight, he stepped between the ropes with courage and an endless supply of heart. Having a great chin and lots of heart led to real-life success for fighters like Scott Smith and Chris Leben. Why not give The Italian Stallion a shot in the UFC?
In the history of film, very few will remember the legacy of Tim Kearney. To be quite honest, the movie isn't worth watching, and even star Paul Walker reportedly called it a "bad movie" in an interview.
However, Kearney uses a healthy supply of jiu-jitsu prowess in the film, which earns him a place on our list.
In the brief scene that I've attached, you can witness Kearney's use of an armbar, flying triangle choke and elbows from mount.
He has a very certain set of skills, and boy are they incredible!
Bryan Mills is a CIA field operative whose daughter is kidnapped while she is on vacation overseas. Because Mills was on the phone with his child at the time of the kidnapping, he was able to collect enough audio clues to track down the men responsible and enact his revenge.
Imagine what he can do to you in the cage if he has a look at your previous fights and can study your every move?
While there are a number of films about the world of underground fighting, the seven black belts of Michael Jai White come together to create devastatingly efficient on-screen fighters.
In the film Blood and Bone, White shows off his incredible abilities time and time again as Isaiah Bone, an ex-con who enters the controversial world of low level pit fighting.
White has the skills to compete in the UFC without the added Hollywood ability to absorb inhuman amounts of punishment. Add that special quality to Isaiah Bone and crank up the intensity meter to 11, and you've got a pugilist who can compete with the world's finest.
Between four big-budget films starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and two made-for-television sequels starring Matt Battaglia, the character of Luc Deveraux has spent many hours kicking ass for our viewing pleasure.
UniSols have been genetically altered to heal quickly and have super strength. That should give them an unfair advantage in MMA; however, with the legal acceptance of TRT and the estimation that 50 percent of fighters are on PEDs, I think the UniSols are the ones overcoming the disadvantage.
Look for Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning in theaters next month. Like most other movies that made too many sequels, the latest installment will be released in 3D.
"You ought to stay down."
I'm sure that plenty of mixed martial artists have been given that piece of advice, but had too much heart to heed it. Snatch's Mickey O'Neil chose to ignore that warning in the attached video, and it's a good thing that he did.
Mickey O'Neil is the hard-nosed, bareknuckle boxing champion who can stand toe-to-toe with anyone willing to stand and bang. He might have trouble keeping the fight clean at times; however, when he is focused, O'Neil can put a hurtin' on anyone unfortunate enough to stand across the cage from him.
Who is tougher than John McClane?
Star of the Die Hard franchise, McClane is a New York detective who has seen his fair share of combat. Although weaponry of some sort is involved in most scenarios, McClane has displayed toughness in each of his hand-to-hand exploits.
By the way, A Good Day To Die Hard hits theaters on Valentines Day 2013.
One of the original bad boys of American martial arts movies, Chong Li is a no-nonsense warrior with a streak for brutality. His merciless attack led him to a tournament championship in Kumite and victories over formidable foes.
Li is the type of villain who had been seen before, but few have been as physically and psychologically imposing as actor Bolo Yeung, who played the role perfectly.
While Chong Li is too brutal for modern MMA, he has the skills to be great in the sport we love.
That's right. Seagal again. Are you going to question it?
Casey Ryback might just be the biggest badass in movie history. As the protagonist of Under Siege and Under Siege II: Dark Territory, Ryback is the type of nightmare that bad guys just can't avoid.
Not only will he shoot your entire crew all by himself in a gun battle, but in a fisticuff situation, he will pummel your face with strikes, throw you to the ground and break you into little pieces with grappling.