The origins of MMA are heavily linked to those of pro wrestling. In a way, you can say pro wrestling is MMA’s big brother. The more you dive into the history of both, you will indeed find that both are heavily connected even than you expected.
Historical MMA figures linked to the rich history of the sport also have connections to pro wrestling, names like Minoru Suzuki, Don Fyre, Masakatsu Funaki, Dan Severn, Masahiko Kimura, Ken Shamrock, and Brock Lesnar are perfect examples of this link.
MMA is very successful right now and even more popular than pro wrestling, but taking a few notes from pro-wrestling could help MMA in a lot of ways.
One of pro wrestling’s biggest strengths is showmanship. Pro-wrestling loves to go big and to be loud. Boxing has taken notes on this and now you see a lot of interesting entrances in this combat sport more often.
While MMA is no stranger to over the top entrances like we see in pro wrestling and boxing, MMA could use more of these over the top entrances to allow individuality between their fighters.
Conor McGregor is the fighter that has embraced the most aspects of wrestling. From his million-dollar walk, which was inspired by Vince McMahon’s billionaire strut, to his promos. McGregor feels like a larger than life personality and has taken the best from both worlds.
When UFC’s Fight Island was first announced, fans were excited about the idea of UFC changing their stage set-up and have a new look. However, Fight Island was just a name and the stage and Octagon remained basically the same. UFC wasted a great opportunity to try something different.
Larger Than Life
One thing pro wrestling does better than anyone is larger than life characters. MMA for the most part has lacked in this department. It can be said that McGregor is the exception.
Sometimes it feels that all MMA fighters are the same and fall under the same “gimmicks” such as:
- Rich asshole
- Overhyped fighter
- Silent killer
- White meat babyface
While I’m not advocating for wizards and zombies in MMA, the sport could use aspects of larger than life wrestlers. McGregor is the perfect example that it could work in MMA and draw big time.
Allowing this would create a better connection between fighters and fans. Pro wrestlers have strong fan bases because for the most part they are allowed to be creative and be themselves, thus fans care more for them and will spend more money.