Brock Lesnar proved that a WWE wrestler could be a UFC champion. Sure, Lesnar was a collegiate wrestling star and a physical freak of nature, but he still made his mark as a performer for the WWE.
Will Lesnar go down as the only WWE and UFC champion in history? Probably not. Who knows who the next crossover star will be. Here’s a look and some athletes with the chops to possibly mix it up in cage and not make total fools of themselves.
6. Jack Swagger
Let’s face it. Fans of the WWE know that Swagger, aka, Jake Hager, is getting wasted in the WWE. The company just can’t figure out how to use him right, even though he has the look, the size and the talent to be a huge superstar. Swagger, 31, should make a run at the UFC while he still has a chance. He’s a former football and college wrestling star at the University of Oklahoma and holds the record for most pins, 30, as an All-American. Don’t tell me the 220-pounder couldn’t hang with Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, at the very least.
5. Daniel Bryan
Born Bryan Danielson, the 32-year-old WWE star has been training to be a professional wrestler since he graduated high school. And it shows. Bryan is one of the best pure workers in the business. He’s fast, strong and makes the wrestling look real. With a gift for timing and believability, Bryan is one of those wrestlers who makes pro wrestling look respectable, not a sideshow. Could he hang with an MMA fighter? Who knows. He’s stiff, tough and gritty. He would do better than James “Lights Out” Toney.
4. Dolph Ziggler
Despite his ridiculous name, Ziggler is a beauty to watch in the wrestling ring. He’s athletic, quick and knows the difference between a wristlock and wristwatch. Before he was given his stage name, he was Nick Nemeth, a star high school and college wrestler. He holds the record for most career pins, 82, at St. Edward High School, where he was teammates with UFC fighter Gray Maynard. His high school wrestling team won the National Championship. After high school he wrestled at Kent State University. With 121 career wins, he is second on the all-time list of wins for wrestlers at Kent State University. Ziggler is a legit athlete who if he worked on his striking would probably make a strong run as a contender in the UFC.
3. Alberto Del Rio
The Mexican aristocrat would probably do OK in MMA because, well, he already has. He holds an MMA record of 9-5, and has fought in Mexico, Japan and Spain. He has knocked out and submitted fighters. In his most prominent fight, he was knocked out by Mirko “Cro Cop” Filopovic. Del Rio is fast, tough and cagey. Born Alberto Rodriguez, the 36-year-old has a strong knowledge of submission holds. As a pro wrestler, he’s a stiff fighter, meaning his punches and kicks are fairly rough. He “taps” other wrestlers out with Ronda Rousey-like armbars. Del Rio went to the WWE to make more money, but he could definitely fight in the UFC and hold his own against some low-level fighters.
2. CM Punk
The straight-edged wrestler, known for his anti-drinking and drugs stance, is probably the most likely of all WWE superstars to enter the cage. Many of his wrestling moves are variations of MMA submission holds. Punk uses the gogoplata, the anaconda vice and various armbars. What makes Punk so formidable is that everything he does is genuine. He works hard to make his matches look real. Punk, born Phil Brooks, also watches a lot of MMA, and pals around with his MMA friends, such as Chael Sonnen. Punk certainly wouldn’t be afraid to fight, or train to get into fighting shape. Can he win? Maybe not against Cain Velasquez. But The Best In The World could throw it down with Bigfoot Silva.
1. John Cena
Let’s get real. Cena can’t even throw a staged punch well; there’s no way he can throw a real one. But what fan wouldn’t want to see the goody-two-shoes get hammered inside the Octagon? Cena actually gets a bad rap. He’s really tough and seems to have amazing healing powers, most recently returning to the ring a month after tearing his triceps muscle. Like him or not, Cena entering the cage would be the biggest UFC Pay-Per-View of all time. Probably never going to happen, but who would ever thought Brock Lesnar, when he was wrestling Bill Goldberg at WrestleMania, would one day be UFC champion?