It seems nowadays, WWE superstars are attempting to step into the world of Mixed Martial Arts. The best example of this was Brock Lesnar.
In 2008, he stepped away from WWE and entered the octagon of UFC. He had a decent run, but he has fallen on some rough times.
In related news, former WWE superstar Dave Batista has been training and is set to make his MMA debut in the near future. So it’s interesting to ponder, who could be the next person to make the jump to MMA?
Obviously if it had been five to ten years ago, Undertaker and Kane would headline this list. However, it seems a little late in the game for those two. Both men are in their mid 40’s.
Even Undertaker acknowledged it would be difficult to start a new career with MMA. He stated in an interview after UFC 121, “it’s a little late in the game for me to start now. But 20 years ago, I’d be all over it.”
The Undertaker did not make this list. Nevertheless, there is plenty of talent available to pick out in WWE and TNA.
The following 20 superstars could one day make that jump and show the public what they can do, inside a different ring with a whole new set of rules.
Swagger's career in WWE seems to have hit a major stall. After winning the World Heavyweight championship earlier last year, Swagger has almost become a running joke in WWE. After being beaten by Rey Mysterio, Swagger seems to have his career flipped upside down.
He still puts together a few good matches, but does not seem to have that “Swagger” he once carried to the ring. WWE writers seem content to continue to keep him as a “mid-card” style wrestler.
Another main event shot in WWE could be far off. The way things stand right now, Swagger may never get another major championship shot.
It might be time for Swagger to move on. MMA could come calling for him. He does have a solid background in wrestling and football, and his physique would be perfect for a heavyweight fighter. On top of that, Swagger has a solid background for MMA.
Swagger wrestled in both high school and college. That means he has a solid background for a MMA fighter. His football playing days at Oklahoma would also be a major plus in training should he decide to follow that career path.
He has the strength and ferocity that any MMA fighter needs to be successful. Multiple world championships could come his way if he decides to make the jump.
Swagger is still a young man, and could get his career turned around in WWE. However, if that doesn’t pan out, MMA is always a good backup option.
Chris Masters has one of the best physiques in WWE. That physique might be put to better use if he transitioned to the MMA.
Masters has been trained in wrestling since he was 16 years old. That gives him plenty of training in the wrestling area of MMA. He would have to work on his fighting technique if he wanted to make said move.
His submission game is fantastic, and he uses that well which could translate to big results with a MMA affiliate. Most of his wins in WWE come via his signature submission hold, "The Master Lock."
Another knock on Masters are his social skills. He does not possess great charisma, which is crucial in WWE.
However, he could still be a big MMA star without those skills. MMA is more dependent on in ring work than promotional flair, so Masters would be safe there.
Masters may never get to the main event level in WWE. So a move might benefit him.
Ziggler is an up and coming WWE superstar. A major title push seems to be in order and it’s hard to figure how Vince McMahon would let him walk away. He is on his way to become one of the most notable wrestlers in WWE history.
Also Ziggler is relatively new to WWE and his current storyline seems too interesting to have it stopped right now.
Nevertheless, Ziggler has a great background in wrestling. He was a star on his High school wrestling team, notching a school-record 82 career pins. This could translate well to a career in MMA. Many fighters have had a strong background in wrestling and Ziggler could prove to be in that same vein.
It’s unlikely though that this would happen. Ziggler is coming into his prime in WWE and could make big waves as a top heel for years to come.
He has great technical skills, and his work on the microphone is among the best in the business.
Yet if he does decide to make the jump to MMA he could also be exciting. With his promotional skills, and solid technical ones as well he could be a great pickup for any MMA company.
Del Rio is the WWE superstar with the most experience in MMA. He in fact left professional wrestling for a while to try his hand in the sport. It did not work out and Del Rio now finds himself back in the professional wrestling ring.
If history has shown anything it’s that you can go “home” again. Del Rio may feel the allure of MMA too strong to resist. He could return in the next few years if his wrestling career does not pan out. Right now it seems like everything is going smoothly in WWE.
Vince McMahon seems to like Del Rio a lot. Del Rio won the 2011 Royal Rumble. This gave him an automatic pass to the main event of WrestleMania, where he will take on Edge for the World Heavyweight championship. Should he lose, he might consider moving back to MMA.
However, with a future full of promise, Del Rio is unlikely to be going anywhere.
Kozlov moving to MMA may just be fantasy at this point. He is on the last legs of his career. At 38 it’s hard to figure how his body would hold up under the strenuous training MMA fighters have to go through.
Even so Kozlov is a solid athlete. Before coming to WWE, he was a well-rounded fighter. He won the USA Open Heavyweight Sambo Championship and a United States Kick-Boxing Association (USKBA) International Heavyweight Grappling Championship. So a move to MMA would seem to be easy for Kozlov.
Kozlov also has a solid background in judo, freestyle wrestling, and mixed martial arts. With all these combined, maybe he could make the transition without a hitch.
His age may be the only thing that stops him from making that move.
The first TNA star on this list, A.J. Styles certainly has the mental toughness to make it in MMA. He grew up from nothing and has made his mark as a top wrestler in TNA.
Styles began his wrestling career in high school. He was a natural at the sport and seemed to be well on his way to becoming a future star.
His career is at its peak in TNA and he might want to branch out. With the natural ability and toughness he displays in TNA he could easily become a fan favorite in MMA.
Styles is good at thinking on his feet. This improvisational offense could prove effective should he make the change.
However, he may decide to stay at TNA for a while. As stated before, he is the most natural talent in their company. He is also beginning to become a crowd favorite, so a move would seem to be a long way off.
Bryan has been amazing since he returned to WWE in August. He defeated The Miz for the United States Championship. He also defeated Dolph Ziggler twice (once on Pay Per View), when Ziggler was Intercontinental Champion.
As a submission specialist he could put together an impressive career in MMA. He also has dabbled in jiu-jitsu, which could prove to be an effective tool. If he can polish his offense a little more, Bryan has the potential to be a major star in MMA.
The one overriding factor is how good he has been in WWE. After trolling around the minor leagues for 10 years, he stepped into the spotlight of WWE and has put together some of the best matches fans have seen.
He is an exciting, high-octane style wrestler. His quick-strike offense could prove to energize fans around the arena.
Bryan began training with Randy Couture. So this may signal that he is preparing for a career in MMA.
With the taped wrists, Punk certainly looks like a MMA star. Could his in-ring skills translate? That’s tough to say.
Punk does a terrific job combining wrestling moves with his training in jiu-jitsu. He is among the most athletic stars in WWE today. Punk demonstrates tremendous agility and quickness in the ring. He also uses his Anaconda Vise very well as a submission maneuver that could impress many MMA fans.
In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Punk stated: “I would love to. I live in Chicago, and I know there are a lot of fighters out here. I just recently moved back, which to me is a big accomplishment. I moved away in 2001 or 2002 for wrestling, and I’ve come full circle and I’ve finally made it back home.
"I’m definitely going to start looking at gyms, and I’ve found a place that I can go back and start working on my jujitsu again, because it’s been a long time since I’ve found a dojo that I felt comfortable enough where I can go in and work out. I’ve got friends here that are into it, so I’m probably just going to go check out their gyms and see what happens.”
If Punk does find the dojo that fits his jiu-jitsu style, he may very well be on his way to an MMA company soon.
At 6’6’’and 272 pounds, Sheamus would strike fear in the hearts of his opponents in MMA. He is among the best in the main event, and always puts on a good show when in the ring. In WWE any unfortunate star that catches Sheamus in a bad mood, might be in for the beating of his life.
Could that translate over to MMA?
Sheamus is one of the most technically sound wrestlers in the ring. He uses his brute strength to demoralize and beat down his opponents. In addition his finishing move, the Brogue Kick, could have crowds cheering for years to come.
Unfortunately for MMA, Sheamus is also one of the biggest stars in WWE. His rivalries with crowd favorites make him a solid heel. He never seems short on enemies, which could lead to major feuds in the future. This will likely be the reason that Sheamus stays where he is for now.
The son of the legendary Curt Hennig, aka“Mr. Perfect,” Michael has a huge reputation to live up to. It’s tough to see how he can do that.
Even if he goes on to win a WWE championship (like his father never did), he would still be in the shadow of his father.
However, he could make a name for himself if he makes the jump to MMA. McGillicutty is still a raw talent, and could be molded into a great fighter.
His technical kinks can be worked out easily. He is already built to be a force and if unleashed in MMA, there is no telling how high he might climb.
McGillicutty has a rough edge about him. His appearance alone screams MMA, so why fight the inevitable?
Harris, like many of the names before him, wrestled in high school. Randy Orton punted him in the skull last week, so right now he will be out of WWE action for a while.
At 275 pounds, he would make any opponent work just to get him to the ground. Even if they managed to get him down, he was a champion wrestler, so that would only benefit Harris.
On top of all that, Harris earned recognition as a football star. Like Swagger before him, that could play a major role in his MMA training.
If Harris can find another style to add, he could be a very talented MMA fighter.
WWE would be crazy to let Orton walk away. He is one of the biggest draws in WWE today, and excites the crowd with his barbaric attacks. Yet it seems his style is fitted for MMA at some point.
Orton spent some time in the Marines. That means he probably received a lot of hand-to-hand combat training, and could use that to good use in MMA.
The biggest problem with Orton is that he has no distinct style when he fights. He seems to just barbarically assault his opponents.
These assaults seem to drain his opponents to the point where they can no longer function, and he can pick up a win.
That style could work in MMA, but he would need to refine it. Orton would also need to pick up a style of fighting, before entering into any MMA contract.
WWE probably won't let him walk away. However, if they do, MMA would be more than happy to grab him.
The Rated R Superstar has had a legendary run in WWE. That run may be coming to an end very soon.
Edge has stated that when his contract is up in 2012, he is strongly considering calling it a career. WWE may lose one of its biggest stars, but MMA might gain one. Edge could easily make a transition over to the mixed martial arts.
Imagine Edge lining up an opponent. He has just leveled him with a big right hook. Now he waits as his opponent staggers to his feet…. AND BOOM!!!!!
A huge spear, taking his opponent out once and for all. The referee counts 10… and Edge has yet another championship to add to his collection. The roar in the crowd could reach levels that would deafen TV audiences.
Even though Edge is 37 years old, he still might be able to be a big star in MMA. He does have a hockey player’s mentality to him, so that could be fun to watch in MMA.
Barrett burst on to the WWE scene with his group, The Nexus in mid-2010. The group has since split up, and Barrett finds himself with a new group called The Corre. Corre or Nexus, Barrett has big potential in WWE.
Even as big as he can be in WWE, Barrett to MMA could make a lot of sense. He is a former Bare-knuckle boxer, and his technical skills in the ring are second to none. He could also do a great job in match promotion because he speaking skills are simply top-notch.
It looks unlikely though that Barrett will be leaving WWE. Management seems to like him, and wants to keep him around for a long time to come.
Barrett seems to want to stay with the company for a long time. He was quoted in an interview with the inside pulse: “UFC fighting isn’t really something that I’d be too interested in now. I’m very much focused on my career with WWE. … I’ve got no desires to ever leave WWE until I wanna retire one day when I’m really old. UFC isn’t something that’s ever really appealed to me. … I was always more a fan of boxing than I was of mixed martial arts.”
With all this in mind, it seems unlikely Barrett will be leaving the Wrestling circuit. Nevertheless, if he does, he would make a fine MMA fighter.
Jackson is an imposing specimen for WWE opponents, and fans alike. He looks a lot like Brock Lesnar. With his incredibly muscular frame, “Big Zeek” as he’s come to be known, could be awesome in MMA.
Jackson has no real martial arts training to speak of. That could be a problem if he ever decides to try jump to MMA. He will need to find some sort of style if does chose that career path.
Even though Zeek lacks that style, his physical prowess cannot be denied. He has incredible strength and can get turn a match around in a matter of seconds.
The link below demonstrates Jacksons raw strength. In said video, he is able to lift The Big Show (who weighs almost 500 pounds), off the ground and slam him back down.
If that doesn’t catch the eyes of some MMA managers, who knows what will?
McIntyre is another young talent the WWE would be crazy to give up. He already has held the Intercontinental title once, and the way things are going, he is in store for a huge push in WWE.
Even so, McIntyre demonstrates a ruthless aggression on his opponents in the ring. He loves to use the ring as a weapon to debilitate his opponents to get wins. It could be interesting to see how he uses a ring with more space.
McIntyre seems to remind fans of a street brawler type of fighter. He uses anything and everything to his advantage, which would be awesome to see in MMA.
Obviously the rules in MMA are stricter than WWE, so there would be some limits to what McIntyre could pull off.
If he does decide to bolt for MMA, he would have to refine his strikes and find a style that fits him. He could be a very destructive force though, in MMA.
The second TNA wrestler on this list, he is the oldest wrestler as well. Rob Van Dam could make his way onto a MMA roster at some point.
Van Dam trained for years as a kick boxer and martial artist. On top of that Van Dam also wrestled in high school. All those things combined, could give Van Dam a solid base if he bolts for MMA.
Van Dam is still going strong despite his age. He could make waves in MMA, should he decided to leave TNA at some point before his career is over.
People may wonder how he could be on this list and not the Undertaker or Kane. The fact is he has five years on both of them, and is in better condition to take on the grueling training MMA demands.
Samoa Joe is the third and final TNA star on this list. He has long career ahead of him and will continue to dominate at TNA. However, he might think about heading to MMA at some point in his career.
Joe trains hard in Judo, and Jiu-jitsu. Joe is already a strong man, so these techniques only reinforce his strength.
He also has been known to hang around the locker rooms of MMA legends. He cites Tito Ortiz and Kendall Grove as two people he loves to spar with.
With all this considered it only seems like a matter of time till Joe signs with an MMA group. If he is able to get there, he will definitely win multiple titles.
Tarver has all the tools to be a big pickup for MMA. His involvement in Nexus was cut short due to injury and his career in WWE is in jeopardy.
Before his injury he demonstrated solid in ring skills and fighting ability. He seems to understand the basics of hand-to-hand combat, which can be refined to fit a certain MMA style.
Tarver is a former Brass knuckle champion. So he does have some fighting experience and training outside of just wrestling. Tarver has the attitude for MMA and loves to go on the attack as soon as the bell rings.
If Tarver can get through this injury, he should consider moving out of WWE. There are too many obstacles for him to overcome, but in MMA he could be a big-time force for the heavyweight division.
Skip Sheffield is another member of Nexus whose time was cut short due to injury. Sheffield was the major enforcer on Nexus, and the strongest of the group.
It was a shame to see him get injured and have his WWE career put on hold.
Sheffield’s biggest asset is his strength. Looking at him up close, he is truly imposing. Like Ezekiel Jackson, Sheffield has a muscular frame that could be a big benefit if he decides to enter MMA.
Sheffield will need to figure out how to use his frame. If he can do this, there is no limit to what he could do in MMA.