In light of the recent merger between the WWE & UFC, it seems like an effort is somewhat occurring to develop a stronger crossover between professional wrestlers and mixed martial artists. As “TKO” is likely to be a dominating brand going forward, the opportunity exists for MMA stars past their prime to branch over into an entirely new avenue to continue their career and make a living.
What we want to look at is where the most potential lies in the biggest stars the UFC has today. Which ones have the natural flair and ability to be great professional wrestlers, and the appeal to become crossover stars as successful as their career under Dana White. Read about six fighters who we believe could thrive under the WWE banner.
Dana White gave Kevin Holland the name “Big Mouth” during one of his fights. While he is one of the few in-fight trash talkers in the UFC, this behavior is normal in the WWE. He would fit perfectly, through igniting wars on the mic, and could use his athleticism to jump from across the ring. Dana White is a man who appreciates activity and shares a great relationship with Holland.
Could you imagine the madness of Adesanya bringing his bow and arrow celebration to the WWE? With Conor McGregor still on the sidelines, he is the UFC’s biggest star at the moment. His lanky frame allowing him to turn the ropes into elastic bands, and his celebrations fit right in with the WWE’s best, over-the-top, feeling similar to the likes of The Rock or ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin.
This potential he could bring to the wrestling business is nothing new either, previously demonstrating this at both UFC 243 & 276, respectfully. At 243, Izzy displayed his mastery in the art of dancing prior to dominating Robert Whittaker to claim his Undisputed Championship. 276, however, is his most noteworthy, seeing the dominate champion walk to the octagon paying tribute to The Undertaker in an iconic moment.
Fans might be divided on his fighting style not exactly living up to the hype that Adesanya sells for every one of his fights. But there’s no denying the potential seed has been planted… “The Last Stylebender” brings originality to the sport and holds a massive influence over his followers. Walking in dressed like a warrior and speaking flames on the mic? Sign us up.
Very few athletes, even professional wrestlers, ooze the charisma and energy that “Iron” Michael Chandler exudes every second he exists on this planet. The man has every quality that embodies a high-level athlete and superstar for any industry he chooses to work under. His absurd athleticism, magnetic intensity, and most importantly his ability to create moments whether on or off a microphone, is amongst the best in the sport.
Currently one of the most exciting stars in the entire UFC, Chandler possesses the natural charisma to become a crossover star in the wrestling world. While the basis for being a professional wrestler is fundamentally different from that of a UFC fighter, he has demonstrated the ability to become a storyteller, one who is more than capable of holding an audience in the palm of his hands with every moment.
Colby Covington is the definition of a professional wrestling heel, albeit a vastly animated one who blends real-world politics into his gimmick to a fair share of controversy in recent years. His gimmick is a unique blend of the online internet troll, old-school Ric Flair, and a certain politician who is widely discussed in Western media.
It’s hard to say whether Covington’s in-ring skills would hold up to his ability to portray a character or dominate on the microphone, but my guess is the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree here. Wrestling is largely an industry of character work, and who better to step between those ropes than a man who reinvented his entire career by portraying one of the most polarizing characters in MMA history. His gimmick has crossover with Zeb Colter, even Sgt. Slaughter with how it reflects the modern socio-political landscape. Colby isn’t foreign to the wrestling business either. He spent time in TNA (now Impact Wrestling), so he was bound to be exposed to the importance of character work and selling… Two things he utilized to become one of the UFC’s biggest names.
Carrying a gimmick as polarizing as the one Covington does won’t mean a transition to wrestling will be without controversy. But it will certainly generate that kind of buzz only he is capable of.
This one is a no-brainer. Ladies and gentlemen, you have a new Hornswoggle. Part of what makes the WWE so entertaining is the prestige of the wrestlers. Henry Cejudo makes bold declarations and is a combat sports icon. Many pro wrestlers would lick their lips at the chance to beat him up, given all the trash talk.
Additionally, the smaller weight classes have been yearning for more attention since Hornswoggle’s departure, and “Triple C” could easily be the guy for that. He has stayed involved in the sport through YouTube breakdowns, coaching, and wars on X. Let’s add WWE to the list of a man who would love knocking someone out while being allowed to wear his Olympic gold medal!
He’s the biggest star in the history of MMA. One of the biggest sports stars of all time. Arguably the biggest draw of the modern era. Conor McGregor is what you look for when you’re talking about looking for a superstar. He personifies charisma, a magnetic character to invest in while making every moment he spends under those bright lights something we’ll remember for decades to come.
We already know a few things about Conor; his iconic look, flamboyant personality, extreme athleticism, and his ability to sell everything like something you must watch before you die. Every one of his fights past 2014 has broken some kind of record in MMA as a whole, particularly against the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov & Nate Diaz. It’s a key component that goes to show him selling a professional wrestling storyline would be on a scale very, very few can achieve.
Pinpointing fighters who would seamlessly transition over into professional wrestling seems like a tall task. Conor McGregor, however, is one of the few that can be as big of a star in it as he is in MMA.
It takes a Special Person to Crossover
Mixed Martial Artists quite literally place their consciousness, body, and health on the line every fight regardless of the opponent. While professional wrestlers do the same, this comes with a great deal of scripting and choreography that makes their efforts seem like a more elaborate stage show than a fight most of the time.
Despite similarities between both industries in how they’re promoted, presented, and laid out, being a Mixed Martial Artist crossing over into Professional Wrestling, and vice versa, isn’t as easy as one would imagine. The physicality and genuine athletic prowess needed to truly excel as say, a UFC fighter, isn’t possessed by a good portion of professional wrestlers. But to become a truly great professional wrestler, one needs more than physicality or athleticism.
Being a professional wrestler is about being an athlete, creator, storyteller, ring general, someone who can foster a connection with an audience that not many are capable of. Being someone with a finishing move and snappy entrance theme isn’t what separates the greats from your stereotypical tight-wearing, ring warrior. There are levels just like in MMA. It’s a feat only a small number of former MMA fighters have been able to achieve, let alone grasp at all.
Which fighters do you feel could crossover to WWE? Let us know in the comments below.