Brock Lesnar and the 20 MMA Fighters Who Could Compete in WWE
WWE’s Vince McMahon and UFC’s Dana White have long said that the two sports are not in competition in that they are different forms of entertainment.
While this is true to some extent, the two sports are in competition for one thing—talent.
As a pro wrestling and MMA fan, it’s hard not to look at the current rosters in the UFC, Strikeforce, and around the world and say, “Wow, these guys could have been the next generation stars in WWE.”
While Brock Lesnar made the opposite transition from pro wrestling to MMA and Dave Batista is attempting to do the same, many of the top MMA stars in the world would make excellent pro wrestling stars.
Here are 20 MMA fighters who could make the transition to WWE.
20. Andrei Arlovski
With perhaps the best look of any MMA fighter, Andrei Arlovski’s bearded jaw and his fanged mouth guard make him one of the most memorable faces in the sport.
The once wildly popular Arlovski has seen a dip in his popularity since leaving UFC and he has suffered three straight losses stemming back to a brutal knockout at the hands of the world’s top heavyweight, Fedor Emelianenko.
Nevertheless, the mere mention of his name brings in fans who might not otherwise tune in to some MMA shows and he can legitimately still main event Pay Per View events.
The biggest obstacle for “The Pitbull” would likely be the language barrier.
He is not overly fluent in English and cutting promos for WWE would be almost out of the question.
He would need a talking piece like Brock Lesnar had with Paul Heyman in WWE and with that, he could likely get over fairly easily with the pro wrestling crowd.
19. Randy Couture
One of the true legends in the history of MMA, Randy Couture is a name that many pro wrestling fans have heard of even if they’re not fans of the UFC.
His ability to fight at two different weight classes made him a champion at both and not too small to stand next to his potential WWE competition. Unfortunately his age (47 years old) makes him an unlikely candidate to be a long-term in-ring option for the company.
Nevertheless, Couture is a freak athlete who doesn’t look anything like his age.
Perhaps his biggest role for WWE, though, could be as an on-screen “trainer” type role for another up-and-coming MMA star making the transition to pro wrestling.
He is regarded as one of the best trainers in MMA now and WWE could certainly capitalize on that in a similar way to what they did with Dan Severn and Owen Hart back in the 90’s.
18. Michael Bisping
For nearly a decade since “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith’s release and untimely death, Vince McMahon and the WWE have been looking for a replacement for him to grab the United Kingdom market.
Smith was a mid-carder for most of his time in WWF but when the company went overseas, he was as big of a star as any of the main eventers.
In much the same way, Michael Bisping has captured the U.K. audience for the UFC despite being considered what would be considered a mid-carder in wrestling terms.
“The Count” fights at just 185 pounds, which means he would need to add some weight to not be oversized by his competition, but weight-cutting would no longer be an issue and he could likely get up to over 220 pounds while still looking decent.
If Bisping made a solid transition to pro wrestling, he could very easily overtake William Regal’s position as the WWE’s biggest draw in England.
17. Frank Mir
One of the best talkers in all of MMA, Frank Mir has done an excellent job of promoting many fights, the best of which was his rematch with Brock Lesnar.
The two of them put on a pro wrestling time promotion for the rematch which may or may not have included some legitimate bad blood.
Mir taunted Lesnar, stating that his previous win over him was enough that he should have been considered the “real” champion.
Though Lesnar absolutely dominated the ensuing fight, Mir did an excellent job of still making himself look like a star coming out of the event.
He worked his way into three more big-money fights, including a Pay Per View main event within the next 15 months.
His biggest setback would likely be his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu transferring into the WWE world. Then again, he wouldn’t look anywhere near as silly applying submissions as The Undertaker did over the past handful of years.
16. Rashad Evans
A former Division I wrestler, Rashad Evans would join WWE by following in the footsteps of stars like Kurt Angle, Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas, and yes, Brock Lesnar.
Evans also trained under the tutelage of UFC legend and former WWE superstar Dan Severn prior to his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter 2.
Despite not being the most iconic fighter on the UFC roster, Evans has established a solid fan base and his being the former UFC Light Heavyweight champion would certainly help establish his credibility very quickly. He has just one loss in 17 career MMA fights.
Evans recently had a WWE-like epic buildup for his fight with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson which was over a year in the making.
Whether there is legitimate hatred between the two is up for debate but it sure made for great television and made the UFC a lot of money.
15. Frank Shamrock
Frank Shamrock is one of the true pioneers in “selling” fights in mixed martial arts. His fight with Tito Ortiz is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most important fights in the history of the UFC, as well as the entire sport of MMA.
He since went on to have some of the biggest non-UFC MMA fights in the United States against various opponents including Cesar Gracie, Renzo Gracie, Phil Baroni, Nick Diaz, and Cung Le.
Though he recently retired, Shamrock was once considered by many to be the best pound for pound fighter in the world and his legacy would only continue into WWE.
He may be 38 years old but he is still in excellent shape and certainly could go toe-to-toe with some of the WWE’s top superstars.
14. Matt Hughes
At 5’9”, 170 pounds, Matt Hughes doesn’t exactly have the prototypical body for mixed martial arts, but he does have the cocky attitude and love-him-or-hate-him personality that makes stars in the pro wrestling world.
In 2007, Hughes was quoted as saying that the UFC had “taken over boxing and the WWE” and that MMA is a “better sport than them.”
In the same interview, he blasted Matt Serra, saying that he is, “A bad example for kids to watch,” and that, “You won’t see me setting a bad example. I think I’m a good ambassador to my sport.”
Though many fans absolutely love him, others hate the way he presents himself as almost a holier-than-thou enigma who can do no wrong.
This is the perfect recipe for a great heel in the pro wrestling world and worked for Kurt Angle for years.
13. Frank Trigg
One of the obvious names on this list is a man who actually has some experience in pro wrestling, former UFC and Strikeforce competitor, Frank Trigg.
It happened back in 2008 when Trigg appeared as an on-screen character in Total Nonstop Action wrestling when he aligned himself with Kurt Angle during Angle’s “MMA-like” gimmick.
The two of them used their visual resemblance to as part of a storyline and Trigg would eventually have an MMA style match against one of the company’s biggest stars, AJ Styles.
The match finished as a draw when Trigg hit Styles with an “unintentional” low blow which eventually turned into Styles attacking him with a foreign object known as a kendo stick. This was the last time Trigg was seen in TNA.
Although the first go-around didn’t go as smoothly as planned, it could have been better if Trigg would have given it a bit more time before jumping back into MMA.
Certainly he has the look and the traits that many look for in a pro wrestling star, but his biggest setbacks would be his size, at only 5’8”, 170 pounds and his age of 38.
12. Josh Koscheck
Josh Koscheck just has “heel” written all over him. His confident, some would even say cocky demeanor are the same type of tendencies that have made hundreds of excellent “bad guys” over the history of pro wrestling.
He’s already one of the most polarizing figures in MMA—some people love him, but even more hate him—and that’s without professional writers coming up with unique ways to make him look like a jerk.
Koscheck’s outrageous hairdo is certainly a memorable physical trait and something that people have in will continue to associate him by.
This type of trait is great for pro wrestling as it would help “Kos” gain attention, but it would also give the writers plenty of material for jokes and perhaps even an eventual “hair vs. hair” match with someone.
11. Josh Barnett
Aside from the fighters who came from pro wrestling, perhaps the fighter with the biggest ties to the pro wrestling world is current Strikeforce heavyweight Josh Barnett.
After becoming the youngest Heavyweight Champion in UFC history by defeating Randy Couture, Barnett was later stripped of his title after testing positive for three steroids.
His fighting license was suspended for six months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission despite his denial that he ever used steroids.
After losing the title, Barnett headed to Japan where he surprisingly began a career as a professional wrestler for the New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) organization.
He wrestled over 50 matches for the company, the biggest of which came in his first match as a pro when he faced champion Yuji Nagata for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
Barnett lost the match but later tag-teamed with veteran Perry Saturn, going undefeated on the following tour in 2003.
Barnett then returned to MMA where he would become one of the top heavyweight fighters in the world while fighting under the PRIDE organization in Japan.
He has since tested positive twice more for steroids in 2006 and then again in 2009.
While WWE does do steroid testing, their tests are considered by most to be significantly easier to pass than the ones administered by the state athletic commissions and perhaps Barnett would find himself at home again in a pro wrestling ring, this time in America.
10. Phil Baroni
There are few personalities in MMA history that are bigger than that of the “New York Bad Ass” Phil Baroni.
Despite boasting just a 13-13 career MMA record, Baroni’s confident swagger would make you believe that he’s 100-0 with 100 knockouts and more titles than he can carry. This is the kind of attitude that could really help put himself and his opponents over with the crowd in the pro wrestling world.
A lot of people don’t realize how the pro wrestling business works, but understand that just because a guy loses a match doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s going to be looked at unfavorably by the fans like it does in the MMA world.
Baroni could be used as the kind of heel that helps push face wrestlers to the next level by defeating him. Meanwhile, Baroni has the ability to come out looking like a star even after he gets pummeled by his opponents. It’s a win-win scenario.
Not to mention, with his muscular physique, the frilly outfits, mustache, and sunglasses; he’s practically a hybrid between 80’s stars Rick “The Model” Martel and “Ravishing” Rick Rude.
If he does decide to retire from MMA, as has been rumored following his loss on New Year’s Day, it would not be overly surprising to see Baroni give it a go in WWE.
9. Alistair Overeem
The current heavyweight champion in both Strikeforce and DREAM, Alistair Overeem is picking up steam as perhaps the top heavyweight MMA fighter in the world.
Overeem has finished nine straight fights in the first round with his most recent being perhaps his most dominating—a 19-second knockout victory over former UFC fighter Todd Duffee on New Year’s Eve.
Overeem’s tremendous record as of late along with his massive physique and unique look make him a perfect candidate for the “monster” type gimmick in WWE. This would be very similar to the gimmick that got Brock Lesnar over when he first came to the company.
While Overeem does have an accent that makes him a bit difficult to understand at times for U.S. fans, he does have better command of his speech than most foreign-born stars. With an “unstoppable monster” type gimmick, though, he wouldn’t need to do much talking.
8. Kimbo Slice
With the personality he has and the struggles he had in mixed martial arts, it’s surprising that Kimbo Slice hasn’t yet signed with World Wrestling Entertainment.
Even without much time in MMA, Slice is one of the biggest draws in the sport and has a lot of support from the ever-important Internet community that made him a star in the first place.
His bare-knuckles street fights were a shocking but engaging form of entertainment that sucked in even people who are not normally a fan of fighting.
Even in his weakest fights in EliteXC, Kimbo Slice’s fights were still drawing huge ratings in comparisons to the cards that did not include him. The guy is simply a star.
Slice’s unique appearance would make him one of, if not the most recognizable MMA fighter who could possibly make the transition into pro wrestling and would quickly give the company a much-needed ratings boost while they determine exactly what to do with him.
7. Chuck Liddell
Perhaps the most popular fighter in the history of mixed martial arts, Chuck Liddell can practically be considered the Michael Jordan of the UFC. If there was to be a new ‘silhouette’ logo created for the company like the NBA has, it would likely be of Chuck Liddell.
“The Ice Man” announced his retirement from the UFC on Dec. 29, accepting an executive position as the vice president of business development.
With his Mohawk and tattooed heads make him one of the most recognizable faces in the history of the sport and he could easily make the transition into WWE with that same memorable look.
Liddell’s biggest issue may be his speech, as he has been known to mumble a great deal of his words and WWE would likely want him to talk often during his stay with the company.
6. Chael Sonnen
As if the bizarre steroid situation with Chael Sonnen wasn’t odd enough, things got even weirder recently when Sonnen pleaded guilty to federal money laundering charges in Oregon on Jan. 3.
Though he is expected to get just probation for the crime, it is the second time in the past year that Sonnen has been entangled in a legal situation since narrowly losing his battle with pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva.
These charges combined with Sonnen’s odd personality in which he essentially dismisses anyone other than himself as an athlete make him an intriguing personality and something that pro wrestling fans could really attach themselves to.
Think John Bradshaw Layfield but with significantly more talent and the potential to work a match without needing to stop every 30 seconds for a breather.
5. Gina Carano
The face of women’s mixed martial arts for the past five years, Gina Carano is perhaps the most attractive woman to ever compete in the sport.
Not only is she beautiful, but her 7-1 record is blemished only by her loss to Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, the top female fighter in the world.
Carano has made a name for herself outside of the sport as she served as a mentor for female MMA fighters in the Oxygen reality series Fight Girls and also appeared as “Crush” on the short-lived NBC show American Gladiators.
She was also featured in a story on ESPN’s series E:60 and ranked #16 on Maxim’s Hot 100 list in May of 2009.
The WWE loves eye candy and Carano gives them plenty of that along with the tremendous athletic ability that could easily make her the top female in the entire sport within a short amount of time.
4. “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal
Take one look at “King” Mo and it’s not hard to see why many people believe that he could be a huge star in pro wrestling.
A former NCAA Division II national wrestling champion, Lawal has fully embraced the theatrics of pro wrestling and brought them to mixed martial arts.
His pre-fight attire is complete with a crown, cape, and chain and he is often accompanied by a host of women. Lawal has been known to dance all the way to the ring or cage which is often met with a mixture of both enjoyment and hostility from the crowd.
According to former WWE superstar Shad Gaspard, Lawal actually had a successful tryout with WWE and the company was ready to sign him to a developmental contract a few years back but Shad told Lawal that he is “still young” and “should fight right now and later become a pro wrestler.”
Apparently he made the right decision, as WWE’s development deals do not pay much and Mo went on to become the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion.
While he lost the title in his last fight, the sky is the limit for this potential future WWE superstar.
3. Tito Ortiz
You know that a fighter knows how to sell himself when he’s still a major name in the UFC despite having not won a fight in nearly four and a half years.
Tito Ortiz is the ultimate showman and is still one of the highest drawing, highest paid fighters in the world. He simply knows how to sell fights.
The work he and Ken Shamrock did in promoting their trilogy of fights was amazing as fans kept wanting more even though Shamrock was thoroughly dominated by Ortiz in all of them.
Ortiz is one of, if not the most polarizing figure in MMA as he is not only one of the most popular fighters but also perhaps the most hated at the same time.
In addition to his MMA history, though, Ortiz did have a short run in Total Nonstop Action (TNA) wrestling in 2005 when he served a special guest referee on a few different occasions for the company during his time off from the UFC.
Ortiz has been long noted as a pro wrestling fan and could even use his relationship with Jenna Jameson to create an on-screen pair that would be both controversial as well as very intriguing to everyone.
2. Brock Lesnar
It has been a crazy ride for the former WWE superstar turned UFC Heavyweight champion, Brock Lesnar.
Originally an amateur wrestler, Lesnar won the 2000 NCAA Division I heavyweight wrestling championship after placing second in 1999. His impressive physique turned the heads of WWE scouts who eventually signed him and began his immediate push as “The Next Big Thing.”
Lesnar went on to become a three-time WWE champion, the youngest man to have held that belt in the history of the company at the time.
The stress of the business, the constant travel, and the physical wear and tear of the sport were too much for Lesnar, though, as he left the company in 2004 with aspirations to become a professional football player.
After a failed tryout with the Minnesota Vikings he briefly returned to pro wrestling, winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) near the end of 2005. Lesnar was eventually stripped of the title in July of 2006 when he began training for his MMA career.
Many doubted the former pro wrestler, saying that he would not have what it takes to become a true MMA fighter.
Lesnar proved doubters wrong, though, when he became the UFC Heavyweight champion by defeating Randy Couture in November 2008. He won his first title defense over Frank Mir in July of 2009, avenging his only loss to that date.
After being sidelined with a near-fatal illness that kept him out of action for nearly a year, Lesnar returned to the UFC and defeated Shane Carwin before losing the title to Cain Velasquez in October of 2010, ending his nearly two year reign as champion.
Following the loss, rumors have began to circulate that Lesnar would be willing to make a return to the WWE when superstar The Undertaker called him out during a bizarre post-fight altercation.
UFC President Dana White has since squashed rumors that Lesnar would be returning to the WWE even on a one-time basis, stating that Lesnar is still under contract with the UFC.
Still, there is little doubt that a return to the ring for Brock Lesnar would be a huge shot in the arm for WWE and its dwindling credibility as a company.
1. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
Even better than Brock Lesnar returning to the WWE, though, would be the arrival of MMA’s biggest character, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
If ever a person has been made for pro wrestling, it’s Jackson. Everything about him just oozes WWE stardom.
The chain he carries to the ring is reminiscent of that of the one carried by the Junkyard Dog in the 80’s, his ripped physique is what the higher-ups seem to look for, his hilarious personality would fit right in with the cast of characters that the WWE has, and best of all he already uses quite a few pro wrestling moves in his MMA game.
“Rampage” is known for his incredible slams, many of which are pro wrestling inspired, and he is a noted fan of professional wrestling.
He and the rest of his fellow “A-Team” movie stars made an appearance on an episode of WWE RAW back in 2010. While he stayed in the “B.A. Baracus” character while on screen, everyone knew who he was and he even delivered a chokeslam to I.R.S. and a picture-perfect spine-buster to Virgil.
“If I wasn’t an MMA fighter, I probably would’ve been a pro wrestler,” Jackson said during a November 2010 interview with AOL Fanhouse’s Ariel Helwani.
The truth is that although Rampage is a huge star in the MMA community, with the current crop of pro wrestlers, he may very well be the biggest star in the entire pro wrestling world right now had he decided to pursue that dream.