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Professional Wrestlers Who Became Successful MMA Fighters

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Professional Wrestlers Who Became Successful MMA Fighters - MMA
Photo Credits: Pexel

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UFC, MMA, and the WWE have had a tight relationship for decades due in part to the athleticism needed to compete in either ring being compared. Recently, Matt Riddle, Shayna Baszler, and Ronda Rousey have found success in the WWE ring, which isn’t surprising. After all, if you can fill one stadium, it’s likely you can load another. 

Although it has been more common for past MMA fighters to switch to wrestling, the switch from WWE to MMA has seen some of the best in sports history. Both sports are highly competitive, and although the outcome of WWE is largely predetermined, you may be surprised to learn that you can bet on both. If you enjoy wagering on sport, I’d recommend taking a look at Casumo online betting.

Now let’s explore some of our favorite professional wrestlers that made the switch to MMA and saw significant success.

Bobby Lashley

Franklin Roberto Lashley, known as “Bobby Lashley” is currently signed with the WWE and performs under the RAW brand. During his first few years with WWE, he became ECW World Champion and debuted with praise in the MMA in 2018. He fought in multiple matches since his debut, but most recently in the highly anticipated fight with Bellator. 

Lashley isn’t exclusive to either sport and later came back to join the WWE to become an Intercontinental Champion twice. He has won a total of eleven championships, including world championships, and has headlined multiple pay-per-view events. Lashley is one of the few athletes that saw success in both sports, and will likely see more progress for years to come.

Brock Lesnar

Often the favorite of sports enthusiasts, Brock Lesnar is a professional wrestler, a former mixed martial artist, and a professional football player. Similar to Lashley, he is signed to WWE under the Raw brand. He started his career successfully winning a silver and gold medal for amateur wrestling at Bismark State College and became the three-time OVW Southern Tag Team Champion with fellow wrestler, Shelton Benjamin. 

He then debuted two years later on WWE’s main roster in 2002, became the youngest champion in history, but then left to become the defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. In 2005, he signed with NJPW and won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in his first match, signed to UFC, and won multiple matches before coming back to the WWE after an 8-year hiatus in 2008. His most notable UFC wins are against Heath Herring, Randy Couture, and Shane Carwin.

Dan Severn

Daniel DeWayne Severn, nicknamed “The Beast,” is a semi-retired mixed martial artist that became a professional wrestler. He was inducted in the Hall of Fame for the UFC (MMA) and is a leading pioneer in MMA. Known as being the first true world-class wrestler in UFC, he is the first and only UFC Tripled Crown Champion. Severn has competed for multiple tournaments and titles, including Kind of the Cage, Cage Rage, WEC, RINGS, PRIDE FC, and MFC. With an impressive record of 101-19-17, he was indeed a force to be reckoned with. 

As another impressive feat, he was the first athlete to hold titles in WWF and UFC at the same time. He retired briefly from UFC, but came back to the sport in 2016, and left the WWF in 2014 and is unlikely to return.

Dave Bautista

Bautista has had an on-and-off career in wrestling, with his years ranging from 1999-2010; 3013-2014 and 2018-2019. He began his wrestling career when he signed to the WWF, and gained fame quickly by becoming the six-time world champion by winning the World Heavyweight Championship 4 times, and the WWE championship 2 times. He holds the record as the Heavyweight Champion, with almost a year (282) with the belt. Bautista headlined WrestleMania XXI, which is the highest-grossing pay-per-view event and won 2014 Royal Rumble, and WrestleMania XXX. 

In regards to his MMA bouts, there’s only one of them, but he technically retired a champion. The wrestler signed a contract in August 2012 to join the MMA. Bautista won his fight on October 6, 2012, defeating Vince Lucero in a TKO. 

Ken Shamrock

Kenneth Wayne Shamrock is a bare-knuckle boxer, professional wrestler, and a retired mixed martial artist and kickboxer. Shamrock is regarded as the most excellent competitors in all of MMA and is considered a pioneer and icon in the sport. He headlined and competed in fifteen main events in PRIDE FC, UFC, and set pay-per-view records. In the UFC, he was considered the World’s Most Dangerous Man and became known for his rivalry with Royce Gracie. 

Although he’s more famous now for his MMA fights, he got his start in WWF in 1997. During his time at the sport, he became a one-time Intercontinental Champion, 1998 King of the Ring winner, and a Tag Team Champion, among other accomplishments.

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