Top 10 MMA Fighters Turned TV/Movie Stars
With MMA now the fastest growing sport in the world, television and movie execs are beginning to take notice and looking to cash in on the recent surge in popularity.
More and more, when you turn on your television or go out to the theater, there is a good chance that you could see your favorite MMA fighter trading in their five ounce gloves for a script.
Here are the top 10 MMA fighters to leverage their success in the cage into roles in television and film.
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Honorable Mention: Forrest Griffin
While Forrest Griffin's fight with Stephan Bonnar is credited as being one of the fights to bring MMA into the mainstream, it is perhaps his job before the world of MMA that has helped Griffin with acting.
Before winning season one of "The Ultimate Fighter" and earning a six-figure contract with the UFC, Griffin was a police officer in Augusta, Georgia.
Griffin may no longer be cuffing bad guys in real life, but he has continued enforcing the long arm of the law on both TV and film.
Griffin played a cop in Tucker Max's 2009 film "I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell." Prior to that, Griffin was on the other side of the law as he had a role as a murder suspect in a 2007 episode of "Law & Order: SVU."
He also just finished filming a cameo in the upcoming action flick "Locked Down." Griffin plays a character named "Mule" and he will be joined by fellow fighters Rashad Evans, Kimbo Slice, and Cheick Kongo.
10. Georges St-Pierre
Georges St-Pierre is one of the most charismatic and well-known fighters in all of MMA.
His dominance inside the UFC's octagon has turned GSP into one of not only the biggest stars of MMA but as well in all of sports, especially in his home country of Canada.
St-Pierre was voted the 2009 Canadian Athlete of the Year in a poll of Canadian sports fans. GSP beat out Pittsburgh Penguins captain, and hockey's golden boy, Sidney Crosby for the honor.
Recently, St-Pierre had an exhibition grappling match on a popular Canadian sports show with former Montreal Canadiens tough guy Georges Laraque. St-Pierre won, despite being four inches shorter and 75 pounds lighter than Laraque.
Slowly but surely, GSP is transitioning from a strong career as a fighter into roles in film.
St-Pierre has appeared in three films to date, playing himself in the MMA film "Never Surrender." He then played characters named "Stone" and "Shaman" in action movies "Hell's Chain" and "Death Warrior".
GSP just completed filming a role alongside many of his fellow UFC fighters in a documentary titled "The Striking Truth 3D." That film is expected to be released in theaters in September 2010.
9. Tito Ortiz
"The Hungtington Beach Bad Boy" Tito Ortiz has had a controversial MMA career. One that has sparked rivalries with the likes of Chuck Liddell and UFC President Dana White.
In addition to starring as a coach on two seasons of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality program, Ortiz has made cameos in various films and television shows.
Ortiz got his acting career started in 2003 with a cameo in the Jet Li film "Cradle 2 The Grave." He would also go on to appear in such films as "The Crow: Wicked Prayer" and "Zombie Strippers", where he met his current girlfriend Jenna Jameson (pictured). The two have twin boys together named Jesse and Journey.
In addition to cameos in films, Ortiz had a small role in a 2007 episode of the TV series "Numb3rs." Ortiz played a character named Tino Alva.
8. Cung Le
Cung Le was Strikeforce's middleweight champion in 2008, but gave up the title to pursue a career in acting.
Le has found success in the world of acting. He had a role in "Fighting" alongside Channing Tatum and also had a supporting role in the 2009 sci-fi film "Pandorum", starring Dennis Quaid.
Later this year, Le can be seen playing the role of "Marshall Law" in the video game adaptation film "Tekken."
Cung Le is not completely done with fighting, however. He has a fight scheduled to take place against Scott Smith at "Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum" on June 26th.
7. Keith Jardine
Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine is a veteran of the MMA world, having fought professionally for the past ten years.
In addition to intimidating opponents inside the octagon, Jardine has used his menacing looks to score acting roles, as well.
The longtime UFC fighter has had roles in the Toby Keith comedy "Beer For My Horses," "Crank: High Voltage," alongside Jason Statham, as well as "Gamer", starring Gerard Butler.
Jardine also appeared in an episode of the critically acclaimed series, "Breaking Bad." In a season three episode, Jardine played a criminal who gets into a bar fight.
"The Dean of Mean" has a role in the new MMA-themed film, "Unrivaled," starring Hector Echavarria. Appearing alongside Jardine are fellow UFC fighters "Suga" Rashad Evans and Nate "The Great" Marquardt.
Not only does Jardine have film roles on his plate. He's scheduled to take on Matt Hamill at "The Ultimate Fighter: Season 11" finale on June 19th.
6. Gina Carano
Perhaps the most popular female fighter in all of MMA, Gina Carano has gained attention inside the cage for both her beauty and toughness.
Carano sported a perfect 7-0 record before being defeated by one of the toughest female MMA fighters there is in Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos in August 2009.
Since then, Carano has turned her attention to the world of acting.
Carano appeared as gladiator "Crush" in the revamped addition of "American Gladiators," hosted by Hulk Hogan.
In addition to her role on "American Gladiators," Carano has a starring role in the upcoming Steven Soderbergh film, "Knockout."
In "Knockout," Carano plays Mallory Kane, a black ops super soldier that seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission.
"Knockout" is expected to be released in 2011 and, in addition to Carano, stars Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Douglas.
5. Bob Sapp
Bob Sapp has had many professions in his lifetime.
He has been a football player, a professional wrestler, a mixed martial artist, and you can also add actor to his resume.
Sapp, who has competed twice in the Dream Super Hulk Grand Prix in Japan, has appeared in over ten films. Some of his credits include roles in films such as "Elektra" and "The Longest Yard."
Currently, Sapp is in Bulgaria filming his role as Ukafa in the new "Conan The Barbarian" film, set to be released in 2011.
4. Chuck Liddell
Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell is one of the most feared and respected men in all of MMA. He possesses one of the hardest punches in the sport and has used that trademark devastating overhand right to become one of the biggest stars in the UFC.
Liddell has held the UFC's light heavyweight title, but to the general population, he may be known most for his pursuit of a different title. The disco ball trophy on ABC's "Dancing With The Stars."
The Iceman appeared on the American reality show in the fall of 2009. Liddell struggled and was the fifth celebrity eliminated, finishing in 11th place.
In addition to appearing on "Dancing with the Stars," Liddell has had cameos on other television shows such as "Inked," "Punk'd," "Entourage," and "The Simpsons."
Liddell has also had some small roles in films, making cameo appearances in "300," "Drillbit Taylor," "The Death and Life of Bobby Z," "Cradle 2 the Grave," "How High," and as a boy scout in the 1981 classic "The Postman Always Rings Twice."
Despite rumors of retirement in 2009, Liddell continues to do battle inside the octagon.
Liddell is a coach on the current season of "The Ultimate Fighter" and is set to take on Rich Franklin at UFC 115 at GM Place in Vancouver, BC on June 12.
3. Oleg Taktarov
Oleg "The Russian Bear" Taktarov was one of the first competitors in the UFC to make a name for himself, competing in and winning the UFC 6 Super Tournament in 1995. To win that brutal competition, he defeated the likes of Dave Beneteau, Anthony Macias, and Tank Abbott in one night.
Only two months later, Taktarov took on MMA legend Ken Shamrock for the UFC Superfight title. The fight would however end in a draw.
Taktarov would continue to fight and win up until 2008, amassing an impressive record of 17-5-2. Even more impressive is that Taktarov has never been submitted in an MMA fight.
In addition to a legendary career in MMA, Taktarov has transitioned into a very successful acting career, appearing in over 20 films.
Taktarov's film credits include roles in "Air Force One", "Rollerball", "Bad Boys 2", "Miami Vice", "We Own The Night", and "Righteous Kill" alongside Robert DeNiro.
The Russian Bear just finished filming the role of "Nikolai" in the new "Predators" movie. He will star alongside Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Topher Grace, and Danny Trejo.
"Predators" will be released in theatres on July 9th.
2. Randy Couture
Randy "The Natural" Couture has accomplished much during his legendary 13-year MMA career.
He was the first man in the UFC to hold titles in two different weight classes. He also has the most title reigns, most championship fights, and was the oldest fighter to win a title in UFC history.
Couture is a UFC Hall of Famer but he is far from calling it a career. "The Natural" is set to take on James Toney at UFC 118 in Boston on Aug. 28.
In addition to being a legend in the octagon, Couture joins some of the legends of action films with an upcoming role in "The Expendables."
"The Expendables" is set to be released on Aug. 13th and features such action film heavyweights as Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Dolph Lundgren, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
While action film fans eagerly anticipate Couture's role in "The Expendables," they can check out Couture's previous film roles: "The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior," "Big Stan," and "Invincible," starring Mark Wahlberg.
1. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
Perhaps one of the biggest roles for an MMA star comes as Quinton "Rampage" Jackson takes over for Mr. T in the role of B.A. Baracus in the new "A-Team" movie.
Rampage will make his big screen debut as B.A. Baracus on June 11 when "The A-Team" is released in theaters.
In addition to his role in "The A-Team," Rampage has appeared in straight to DVD films "The Midnight Meat Train" and "Never Surrender."
MMA fans may get to see more of Rampage on the big screen as at a post-UFC 114 press conference, Jackson said he had received multiple scripts for upcoming films.
"Rampage" Jackson has also had roles on the small screen, appearing in "The King of Queens." He recently hosted an edition of "WWE Monday Night Raw," and was a coach on season ten of "The Ultimate Fighter."