WWEDownload App

UFC: CM Punk, Kurt Angle and 8 WWE or TNA Pro Wrestlers Who Could Move to MMA

Nick CaronAnalyst IAugust 21, 2016

UFC: CM Punk, Kurt Angle and 8 WWE or TNA Pro Wrestlers Who Could Move to MMA

1 of 9

    The historical relationship between pro wrestling and mixed martial arts has always been interesting. While some of the organizations in Japan fostered this relationship, the UFC and WWE have always had some sort of love-hate relationship. In fact, despite their audiences being very similar, both UFC President Dana White and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon have been quoted as saying that the two entertainment sources are “not competitors.”

    Competitors or not, however, there is no denying that there has been some crossover between the athletes.

    Crossover athletes like Ken Shamrock, Kazushi Sakuraba, Dan Severn and Don Frye helped pave the way for former (or still active) pro wrestlers in the early days of MMA. Then the pro wrestling boom of the late-90’s happened and it didn’t make financial sense for wrestlers to truly fight for a living.

    There was a long drought of pretty much no one coming from pro wrestling into MMA until 2007 when one of wrestling’s biggest stars, Brock Lesnar, left the WWE in his prime. It took awhile and he took time trying to become an NFL player, but when Lesnar debuted for the UFC, a star was born.

    Ever since that time, we have been anxiously waiting to see who the next star will be. But Bobby Lashley has been mostly unsuccessful so far, Dave Bautista (known as Batista in WWE) hasn’t yet made his debut, and no one else has really made any sort of impact.

    So who will the next crossover star be? Will there even be a next crossover star?

    Here are the top eight current or recent-former pro wrestlers who could make a move to become a mixed martial artist.

8. Jack Swagger [Jacob Hager]

2 of 9

    Measurables
    Height: 6’6”
    Weight: 263 pounds
    Age: 29 years old

    Pro Wrestling Accomplishments
    1x ECW Champion
    1x WWE World Heavyweight Champion

    MMA Credentials
    Swagger was recruited at the University of Oklahoma as a two-sport athlete and actually played behind future NFL players Dusty Dvoracek and Tommie Harris as a defensive tackle in high school. But it was his wrestling that made him a star at Oklahoma, where he became would set the single-season record for most pins (30) as an All-American in his junior year.

    His success at Oklahoma caught the eye of the WWE’s Jim Ross who told the collegiate athlete to contact him upon his graduation. The rest, as they say, is history. 

7. Rob Van Dam [Rob Szatkowski]

3 of 9

    Measurables
    Height: 6’0”
    Weight: 237 pounds
    Age: 40 years old

    Pro Wrestling Accomplishments
    Countless championships on the independent scene
    2x ECW World Tag Team Champion
    1x ECW World Television Champion
    1x ECW World Heavyweight Champion
    2x WWE “World” Tag Team Champion
    1x WWE Tag Team Champion
    4x WWE Hardcore Champion
    1x WWE European Champion
    6x WWE Intercontinental Champion
    1x WWE Champion
    1x TNA World Heavyweight Champion

    MMA Credentials
    Rob Van Dam is a former kickboxer and martial artist as well as a high school wrestler. He has trained in karate, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, and Kendo. He even has experience in martial arts competition as he once placed second in a Toughman contest.

    At 40 years old, Van Dam is one of the older men on this list, but his unbelievable athleticism makes that hardly a concern. Unfortunately, his biggest problem may be that he is an outspoken advocate of marijuana use and could struggle to pass a drug test from an athletic commission.

6. CM Punk [Phillip Brooks]

4 of 9

    Measurables
    Height: 6’1”
    Weight: 222 pounds
    Age: 32 years old

    Pro Wrestling Accomplishments
    Countless championships on the independent scene
    1x OVW Southern Tag Team Champion
    1x OVW Television Champion
    1x OVW World Heavyweight Champion
    2x ROH Tag Team Champion
    1x ROH World Champion
    1x ECW Champion
    1x WWE Champion
    3x World Heavyweight Champion 


    MMA Credentials
    Whether or not this whole storyline with CM Punk is real is somehow being debated within the pro wrestling community and we’re not going to bother getting into that here. But simply speaking, CM Punk signing with a mixed martial arts company right now could be absolutely huge for that organization. There is not be a hotter name in wrestling right now.

    Punk has experience in jiu-jitsu and has even stated in the past that he would “love to” compete in mixed martial arts.

    “I’m not saying I’m going to jump into it. I’m not fighting tomorrow or anything. But it’s definitely something that interests me,” Punk stated. “But saying that, I also hate getting punched in the nose.”

5. David Hart Smith [Harry Smith]

5 of 9

    Measurables
    Height: 6’5”
    Weight: 250 pounds
    Age: 24 years old

    Pro Wrestling Accomplishments
    Countless championships on the independent scene
    1x WWE “World” Tag Team Champion
    1x WWE Tag Team Champion

    MMA Credentials
    At only 24 years old, David Hart Smith is the youngest athlete on this list and possibly the one with the best potential. He is the son of pro wrestling legend Davey Boy “British Bulldog” Smith, who tragically died in 2002. 

    Smith has been almost completely inactive since the end of the Hart Dynasty in 2010. Rumors of his move to MMA began in April when his mother wrote on Twitter that, “I actually think my son Harry Smith could compete in Pride, MMA/UFC now as a high level wrestler, he’s honestly that good! Ask Josh Barnett.”

    And yes, Smith actually did train with Josh Barnett.

4. Dave Batista [David Bautista]

6 of 9

    Measurables
    Height: 6’6”
    Weight: 290 pounds
    Age: 42 years old

    Pro Wrestling Accomplishments
    1x OVW Heavyweight Champion
    1x WWE Tag Team Champion
    3x WWE “World” Tag Team Champion
    2x WWE Champion
    4x World Heavyweight Championship
    1x WWE Royal Rumble Winner

    MMA Credentials
    When Batista left the WWE in 2010, it was assumed that, at over 40 years old, he was tired of the daily grind of the road and the wear and tear on his body. But that all changed when he showed up at a Strikeforce event and told TMZ.com that he was pursuing a career as a mixed martial artist.

    ... Then we never heard anything about it. That is, until 2011 when Zuffa purchased Strikeforce and essentially told Batista to [bleep] off.

    It is assumed that Batista will continue pursuing mixed martial arts, but we really don’t know anything for a fact at this point other than that he won’t be fighting for Strikeforce anytime soon.

3. Daniel Bryan [Bryan Danielson]

7 of 9

    Measurables
    Height: 5’10”
    Weight: 192 pounds
    Age: 30 years old

    Pro Wrestling Accomplishments
    Countless championships on the independent scene
    1x Ring of Honor Pure Champion
    1x Ring of Honor World Champion
    1x WWE United States Champion

    MMA Credentials
    When he started as a pro wrestler, Bryan Danielson began by emulating the styles of former pro wrestlers Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit. But as he began creating his own identity, Danielson actually began training in jiu-jitsu and implementing a unique style that really has not been successfully copied since.

    Danielson is one of the few fighters on this list who has actually actively trained in mixed martial arts for an extended period of time. Not only that, but his training has taken place at an elite camp with Xtreme Couture.

    His size would make him an interesting competitor, likely as a welterweight.

2. Samoa Joe [Nuufolau Joel Seanoa]

8 of 9

    Measurables
    Height: 6’2”
    Weight: 280 pounds
    Age: 32 years old

    Pro Wrestling Accomplishments
    Countless championships on the independent scene
    1x ROH Pure Champion
    1x ROH World Champion
    1x TNA World Tag Team Champion
    1x TNA X Division Champion
    1x TNA World Heavyweight Champion

    MMA Credentials
    Joe is widely known as one of the stiffest workers in pro wrestling. For those unfamiliar with the term, it essentially means that the normal minor contact that pro wrestlers may have one another is amped up a bit and may be connected on a bit more forcefully in order to draw a better fan reaction and create a more realistic-looking product.

    While pro wrestling, Joe has remained very active in mixed martial arts. He actively trains in both jiu-jitsu and Muay-Thai kickboxing in California. He is also a training partner of UFC fighter Justin McCully and has shown up in the locker rooms of Tito Ortiz and Kendall Grove.

1. Kurt Angle

9 of 9

    Measurables
    Height: 6’0”
    Weight: 240 pounds
    Age: 42 years old

    Pro Wrestling Accomplishments
    1x IWGP Heavyweight Champion
    1x WCW United States Champion
    1x WCW Champion
    1x WWE King of the Ring
    1x WWE Tag Team Champion
    1x WWE Intercontinental Champion
    1x WWE Hardcore Champion
    1x WWE European Champion
    4x WWE Champion

    MMA Credentials
    Where to begin?

    As if being a three-time NCAA All-American, one-time runner-up for the NCAA Championship and two-time NCAA Champion wasn’t enough, Angle’s credentials keep going. Angle won the world championship in the 1995 freestyle wrestling tournament, is a member of both the National Amateur Wrestling and USA Wrestling Hall of Fames.

    But most importantly, he won an Olympic gold medal in 1996 “With a broken freakin’ neck!” by defeating the legendary Iranian wrestler Abbas Jadidi.

    Quite frankly, if Kurt Angle decided to make a move to mixed martial arts as he has toyed with in the past, he may still instantly be the best wrestler in the entire sport. He’s that good.

    During his time in WWE, there were even reports that he and Brock Lesnar got into an impromptu freestyle wrestling match backstage. According to those reports, despite Lesnar’s size and youth advantage, Angle absolutely schooled the mammoth future UFC champion.

    Last year, Angle told reporters that he wanted to compete in MMA at some point.

    "I do want to do the UFC, the MMA thing,” he said. “Hopefully, God willing, it will be in the next year or two."

    Unfortunately, Kurt Angle’s health is likely the thing that would keep him from competing in mixed martial arts. He certainly has the toughness to fight through it, but would the doctors clear him to fight given that his neck is basically held together by silly string and chewing gum at this point?

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices