The UFC is filled with MMA fighters of all kinds, you will find fighters who are proficient in Wrestling, Karate, Boxing, BJJ, and more. However, not every fighter started off with UFC, some of them came from other areas.
Not every UFC star that came from other sports stayed in the UFC, but some of them really made a mark in their path.
What do we have to know about these people? Well, it goes back far, did you know that before MMA became what we know it as today, that the former pro Wrestler Antonio Inoki made way for the sport to grow when he challenged Muhammad Ali in 1976?
It was events like this that allowed the sport to grow, and now Boxers, Wrestlers, and other fighters find their way into the UFC.
WWE To MMA
Often, one of the sports we find connecting to MMA, is the WWE. Sometimes a famous WWE Wrestler finds their way into MMA and changes the MMA odds massively, especially when fans know who he is.
This has happened a few times, and there are 5 UFC fighters we know that have a background in WWE and who made a mark when they left it behind.
Making The Change
So, who are these wrestlers who decided to make the change to UFC fighting? There are many more than these, but these fighters are our top 5!
#1. Phillip Jack Brooks
Phillip Brooks was a pro wrestler from 1999 until 2014, but in 2014 he switched things up and moved to MMA.
He was known as CM Punk, he signed with WWE in 2002 and spent a long time with them, winning 2 WWE Championships, and 3 WWE Heavyweight Championships.
However, in December 2014 he decided to sign with the UFC. His first fight was against Mickey Gall, and he was defeated in the first round, his second fight was also a loss.
UFC president White said that he should quit after this, but he continued. He is signed to the UFC as a welterweight. So, while he didn’t leave a mark, he is still in the ring.
#2. Dan Severn
Dan Severn dabbled in both worlds, he has been in pro wrestling since 1991, but in MMA he fought from 1994-2013, then picked it up again and has been fighting since 2016.
He was the first world-class wrestler to enter the UFC, and he was something of a foreboding of how powerful wrestlers would be in this scene.
He is a 2 time NWA heavyweight champ, a member of the NWA Hall of Fame too. When he started competing in UFC he was the first to hold championships in WWF and the UFC. Yes, he is also a member of the UFC Hall of Fame too.
He retired from pro wrestling in 2014, but he still has some UFC action.
#3. Ken Shamrock
Shamrock has dabbled in both sports a lot, he was in WWF from 1989-1993, then again from 1997 to 2004, 2009 and then from 2018 onwards. In MMA he fought from 1993 to 1996, then again from 2000 to 2010 and again from 2015-2016.
His MMA record stands at 28-17-2, which alone says how good he is.
He is an Intercontinental champion, as well as a 1998 King of the Ring, NWA Heavyweight Champion, and also a World Tag Team Champion. You may know his name as he is credited with having made the ankle lock hold popular.
He is a UFC Hall of Famer, and has won many titles.
#4. Kazushi Sakuraba
Kazushi fought as a wrestler from 1993-1996, then 1997-1998, and in 2012 until 2016, however, he has been in MMA from 1993 and still is. He has a record of 26-17-1 and 2 no contests.
His wrestling career has him known well, but his MMA career even more so, having defeated 4 members of the Gracie Family, nicknaming him ‘Gracie Hunter’.
His most infamous fight was probably against Roy Gracie. That fight went on for an hour and a half and only ended when Gracie was unable to continue.
#5. Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio was wrestling from 2000 and still is. He dabbled in MMA from 2001 to 2010, and returned in 2019, although he seems to be staying in wrestling now.
He became the first ever Mexico-born champion in WWE history when he won the WWE Championship back in 2011. He has also won the Royal Rumble as well as the Money in the Bank match in the same year.
He returned to MMA in 2019 to take on a UFC Hall of Famer- Tito Ortiz. Ortiz won the fight much to Del Rio’s dismay, but the ruling on the fight was quite the extravaganza and caused a bit of an uproar in the WWE and MMA scenes alike.