8 UFC Fighters Who Would Make Great WWE Superstars
So, maybe—somehow—you haven't heard the news: Ronda Rousey is officially a member of the WWE roster.
The former UFC bantamweight champion and trailblazer made her official debut at the Royal Rumble in January. She came back for the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view February 25, and on Monday night's edition of Raw, she had her tag team match at WrestleMania 34 (teaming with former Olympic wrestling gold medalist Kurt Angle) against Stephanie McMahon and husband Triple H announced.
Rousey is likely to be a big success in WWE, as long as she's used correctly. But she isn't the only UFC fighter who has a great chance of making a successful transition to the squared circle.
Today, we're taking a look at eight other active UFC competitors who we think would make great professional wrestlers. Whether it's their charisma, looks or athletic ability (or a combination of the three), all eight of these handpicked stars would have a better-than-average chance of making the leap to the world of sports entertainment.
Much of pro wrestling is built on world-class heels. The people you love to hate.
If handled correctly, fans pay to see them get their comeuppance after months of narrowly avoiding justice at the hands of the babyface. Colby Covington, a UFC welterweight who is on the rise, is a perfect natural heel. And by that, I mean he's got a personality that's just so very easy to hate. He's a top-tier welterweight who has been using a pro wrestling persona to set himself apart from the rest of his divisional compatriots.
His needling of champion Tyron Woodley has been a particular highlight (or low light, depending on your personal tastes). And his act seems to be pushing him into the title picture much sooner than others who take routes that are less ridiculous.
Covington also has an amateur wrestling background, which always helps when breaking into pro wrestling. He was an All-American and two-time Pac-10 champion at Oregon State University and placed fifth in the 2011 NCAA championships. And to top it off, Covington has some experience in pro wrestling already, having appeared in Impact Wrestling alongside his American Top Team teammates Bobby Lashley and King Mo.
Covington has all the tools to make it in pro wrestling. Don't be surprised if he makes the switch to the squared circle after his fighting career is over.
Over the past few years, the women of World Wrestling Entertainment have transitioned from being portrayed as sideline eye candy to legitimate, athletic counterparts to the men on the roster. Former UFC star Ronda Rousey is now in the WWE fold, but the women's side of WWE is still mostly lacking a solid group of believable and charismatic performers for fans to get behind.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk, the former UFC strawweight champion, has a natural confidence (you might call it arrogance) that would translate well to WWE. When she held the UFC title, she christened herself "Joanna Champion," which was both easy for the fans to get behind and easier to spell and pronounce than her actual last name.
Jedrzejczyk's in-ring work would be based on her striking, with a little bit of grappling thrown in for good measure. But it would be her personality, with her cocky interviews and her I'm-about-to-kill-you eyes, that would make her stand apart from the rest of the roster.
A longtime hardcore fan of professional wrestling, Daniel Cormier might have more tools to make the transition to pro wrestling than anyone else on this list. One look at the persona he's developed to turn himself into a bona fide UFC superstar is all the proof you need. Cormier appears to have adapted bits and pieces of wrestlers from the past and molded them into his own, over-the-top personality that either makes the fans love him or hate him.
A couple of years ago, when Cormier was preparing to fight Jon Jones, Cormier was in a weird place. He was the good guy in the rivalry. He supported his family, didn't party in out-of-control fashion, didn't get in trouble with the law, didn't fail drug tests. And yet, for some reason, the fans were booing him and supporting Jones. As Fightland's Chris Kelly detailed in 2016, Cormier didn't understand why, but there was an opportunity. Paralleling Bret Hart's late-90s run in the WWF (where Hart was a babyface in Canada but a heel in America), Cormier berated the fans for supporting the trouble-seeking Jones.
These days, Cormier's standing with the fans has turned a corner, mostly thanks to Jones' continued penchant for getting in trouble. But the last few years of his career has shown that Cormier has the correct mindset for pro wrestling. And needless to say, his Olympic-level background in amateur wrestling would be a big help in making the transition.
But time is not on Cormier's side. He'll be 40 years old in just over a year, which is likely too old to make any sort of full-time transition to pro wrestling. But I wouldn't be surprised to see Cormier pop up in a pro wrestling event after he retires from fighting, if only for a special appearance.
There's a reason WWE announcer Jim Ross has already said he believes WWE will bring in the biggest star in mixed martial arts history for a special appearance at WrestleMania.
Conor McGregor's brash, outlandish and sometimes ridiculous public person is a perfect fit for the wild and personality-driven world of pro wrestling. He wouldn't be a good fit as a full-time in-ring competitor, simply because he's too small; he's far smaller than even the smallest and most overlooked cruiserweights on the WWE roster.
But McGregor is the kind of outside personality WWE is interested in using in, say, a guest refereeing spot at a huge event like WrestleMania. The only problem? McGregor's current level of stardom has likely priced him outside of anything WWE would be interested in paying; with WrestleMania included on the subscription-only WWE Network, a McGregor appearance wouldn't draw the kind of eyeballs on pay-per-view needed to even cover the costs of his appearance.
Vince McMahon has a history of promoting guys who look like Yoel Romero. Actually, McMahon has a history of promoting guys who don't even match Romero's look. Romero has the build of a superhero; he's the kind of guy McMahon would've done anything to sign back in the 1980s.
Romero's iffy grasp of the English language might be a knock against him, but I think it might actually work in his favor. Pro wrestling promoters, McMahon included, have used "evil foreign heels" as a staple of pro wrestling storylines since the day the sport began. If this were the 1980s, you can bet your last dollar that McMahon would've promoted him as the evil Cuban menace trying to hurt all the good and decent American wrestlers on the roster.
I think the optimal way to use Romero would be to put him with a mouthpiece; someone who can do the talking while he does all the bone-breaking. Paul Heyman would be the perfect advocate/manager for Romero.
And of course, Romero's Olympic background in amateur wrestling would be a huge help in making the transition from fighting to entertaining.
Travis Browne's wife, Ronda Rousey, is already on the WWE roster. While that's definitely a thing that would help him make the transition to the ring, it's his size and agility that would make him a truly interesting pro wrestling prospect.
Browne's chin has been failing him in the Octagon; he has lost four fights in a row, and in each of those fights, he has proved susceptible to hard strikes. But there's no doubt he has the agility and athleticism to stand out in the WWE ring, somewhat like a smaller version of rising superstar Braun Strowman.
Except Browne is faster and more agile than Strowman, which is an incredible thing to think about. And according to a recent report from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Dave Meltzer, Browne has been training alongside his wife at the WWE's Performance Center in Orlando. We don't know if that means Browne is seriously considering a move to the squared circle, but if he is, he's got some real advantages over others who dream of being a pro wrestler.
Tonya Evinger doesn't fit the pattern of what WWE usually looks for in its female competitors. But that's the very reason I think she'd be a good addition.
Evinger is a longtime mixed martial arts veteran who made the transition to the UFC last year when she agreed to be a late-notice replacement against featherweight champion Cris Cyborg. That fight didn't go her way, but prior to that, Evinger hadn't lost a fight in nearly six years and was the reigning Invicta bantamweight champion.
Evinger has a natural kind of charisma that might remind you of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin back in the 1990s, except quite a bit more profane and unpredictable. She's crass and has a penchant for just saying or doing whatever is on her mind in that moment. Giving Evinger a live microphone would be an iffy proposition; you never know exactly what she's going to say, or if the thing she says will offend just about everyone in existence.
Evinger would be different, and in this case, different is good. She'd stand out from the pack. Just make sure she isn't given free reign to say whatever she wants on live television.
If ever there was a UFC fighter who could make an easy transition from championship fighter to menacing, terrifying pro wrestler, it's Cris Cyborg.
Cyborg's physique and fighting record lend her an aura that can't really be duplicated within the confines of WWE. Sure, the company does its best, as it's shown over the past couple of years with Asuka. But while Asuka is billed as an unbeatable force with deadly striking who can't be beaten...Cyborg is actually an unbeatable force with deadly striking who hasn't been beaten in mixed martial arts competition in a long time.
She's also shown interest in doing pro wrestling in the past, so it's not far-fetched to imagine a day when she steps in a WWE ring. Pair her with Paul Heyman and let him do the talking, and Cyborg would be an instant WWE success. And hey, maybe we'll finally get that Rousey vs. Cyborg fight we always wanted. It would just be in the WWE ring at WrestleMania instead of a UFC Octagon.