For the last few months, the list of UFC names rumored to be thinking of making a future run in pro wrestling has been growing. After Brock Lesnar’s defeat to Cain Velasquez, a post-fight confrontation with WWE’s Undertaker led to rumours of Lesnar returning to the ring for another match once his fighting days were through. Rampage Jackson, Roy Nelson and even Shonie Carter (yes, a Wikipedia link was provided incase you forgot this guy) have come out in the last few days saying that he’d like to take a run at pro wrestling. However, these guys aren’t the first to make the transition from the fight game to the squared circle. We compiled a list of the top 10 fighter appearances in pro wrestling, complete with video footage of each. You might be surprised to see some of the fighters on our list!
#10 – Dan “The Beast” Severn
Capitalizing on both the growing popularity of the UFC and the fact that it was being attacked by major politicians in the United States, Vince McMahon scooped up UFC veteran Dan “The Beast” Severn for a squared circle run in 1998, complete with his UFC title worn during his ring entrance. Prior to even his UFC career, Severn competed in various pro wrestling circuits in Japan and the US, so one could make the argument that “The Beast” was the first pro wrestling act to make it big in the UFC.
Dan Severn on WWE in 1998
#9 – Tito Ortiz
Tito Ortiz made a brief appearance in the lesser-known TNA Wrestling, which is broadcast on UFC’s television partner Spike TV. Ortiz, who lives a life outside the cage that looks like a pro wrestling storyline gone bad, would probably make an excellent fit as a pro wrestler. He’s easy to hate, dyes his hair blonde, has been known to fake an injury (Cowboy Orton, anyone?) and Jena Jameson would be a shoe-in for a slutty version of Miss Elizabeth.
Tito Ortiz talks his stint in TNA Wrestling
#8 – Frank Trigg
Frank “Twinkle Toes” Trigg also appeared for the TNA Wrestling group a few years back, actually getting involved in matches with some of the TNA stars. With a name like “Twinkle Toes”, Trigg would have fit right in as a tag team with some of the more flamboyant wrestlers of the past as Gorgeous George, Goldust or “Adorable” Adrian Adonis.
Frank Trigg battles with AJ Styles on TNA Wrestling
#7 – Evander Holyfield
Evander Holyfield appeared a few years ago in a “boxing” match on a WWE special on NBC, facing off with wrestler Matt Hardy. The pre-determined outcome would be the closest that we would get to the Evander Holyfield of old.
Evander Holyfield appears in a “boxing” match on Saturday Night Main Event
#6 – Tank Abbott
Tank Abbott, who was a terrible ambassador for mixed martial arts during the 1990’s, had a lengthly run as a pro wrestler in the now defunct World Championship Wrestling. We found a video below of Abbott starting a “brawl” with NHL tough-guy Bob Probert – only in pro wrestling, folks.
Tank Abbott brawls with NHL legend Bob Probert in WCW Wrestling
#5 – Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr., a box-office draw in the boxing world, transitioned to the world of pro wrestling for a big payday at WrestleMania 24, facing off with The Big Show in a special attraction match that would have cost the McMahon family a lot of dough. The bet on Mayweather drawing a much larger buyrate for WrestleMania didn’t pan out so well, but Mayweather’s over-the-top personality fit right into the world of the WWE.
Floyd “Money” Mayweather & The Big Show headlined WrestleMania 24
#4 – Rampage Jackson
Rampage Jackson, now a part-time movie star, appeared on WWE RAW to promote “The A Team” in the summer of 2010. Rampage is supposedly a huge pro wrestling fan – he borrowed the idea of wearing chains around his neck from the 80’s wrestler The Junkyard Dog.
Rampage Jackson appears with Roddy Piper and gang to promote “The A Team”
#3 – Mike Tyson
“Iron” Mike Tyson made a few big appearances in pro wrestling, notably as a referee at the WrestleMania pay-per-view in 1998. Tyson recently appeared on WWE RAW in a wrestling match, where he actually got in the ring and competed in a tag match. Who would have known that Tyson had the braincells left to remember all of his rehearsed moves?
Mike Tyson teams with Chris Jericho on WWE RAW
#2 – Ken Shamrock
Ken Shamrock had the most successful transition from MMA to the pro wrestling circuit, having a career in the WWE that lasted a few years during a highpoint in wrestling popularity in the 1990’s. Shamrock left MMA to pursue pro wrestling at a time when many considered him the top fighter in the world. Like Dan Severn, Shamrock migrated to the WWE when the UFC was facing opposition from all sides during the early years of it’s growth.
Ken Shamrock appears in the WWE as they capitalize on the popularity of the UFC
#1 – Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali, who brought a pro wrestling-esque level of showmanship to the sport of boxing, made a number of appearances for the WWF in the 1970s and 1980s, including as a special enforcer for the main event of the first WrestleMania. In the clip we dug up below, Ali gets in a scuffle with old school wrestler Gorilla Monsoon that leads to Ali being lifted up for the good ol’ helicopter spin. There really wasn’t a better way to end this article!
Muhammad Ali battles with Gorilla Monsoon in the WWF