MMA and professional wrestling have never been closer aligned courtesy of the recent merger between UFC and the WWE. It was announced back in April that Endeavor – the holding company for the biggest MMA promotion in the world – had acquired the professional wrestling giant from founder Vince McMahon. However, it remains to be seen how much the two worlds will be linked.
At present, they seem like totally different worlds, but there’s actually a surprising amount of crossover. We’re not saying that you’ll be seeing Conor McGregor in the squared circle anytime soon, nor are we saying that you’ll see Roman Reigns in the Octagon. However, many wrestlers have already made successful transitions into MMA, such as Brock Lesnar, Bobby Lashley, and Jake Hager.
And for every success story, there is also a “what might have been”. Here are two other wrestlers who never made the leap but could have been highly successful in the Octagon.
While Logan Paul might be best known for his YouTube antics, he’s actually a skilled athlete. Paul was a high school wrestler and was even briefly on the Ohio University wrestling team. He’s also trained in boxing; he has fought against Floyd Mayweather while the Logan Paul vs. Dillon Danis odds for their upcoming bout in October currently make him a -800 favorite for victory.
While we doubt he would be a heavy favorite like the current boxing betting odds make him for the Danis matchup, if Paul adapted himself to MMA like he has done wrestling, the sky could well be the limit.
While he has proven himself to be a diverse customer, both in the world of content creation as well as sports, it is in WWE where the Maverick has shone brightly in recent years. The 28-year-old signed a part-time deal with the company early in 2022 and he has proceeded to put on a number of Match of the Year contenders in the 18 months since.
Although his athleticism is undeniable, his most valuable asset in MMA would be his self-promotion skills. MMA, like pro wrestling, is all about personality and showmanship. Paul has mastered the art of generating buzz and getting people to tune in to his fights. If he were to make the switch to MMA, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility, he would undoubtedly bring a huge audience with him.
Kurt Angle won a gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1996 Olympics – with a “broken freakin’ neck”, as he likes to remind everyone – and later became one of the top stars in WWE. He won numerous world championships and then moved on to have a stint with TNA, and it was here that built his MMA character during a feud with Samoa Joe.
Angle has stated numerous times that he would have loved to have a career in MMA however, his rise to the top came just before the UFC became a household name. By the time Brock Lesnar transitioned in 2005, Angle had already had numerous surgeries and was no longer able to compete at the highest level in the cut-throat world of legitimate combat.