With such high octane action, and massive risks to its competitors, the WWE and UFC have both become billion dollar franchises over the years. It’s no wonder then that the respective companies share a huge crossover crowd – but what happens when the athletes themselves try to make that crossover? We take a look at the athletes who have competed in both codes – including those that have been successful, and those that have not.
Brock Lesnar: Successful
Without doubt the greatest Athlete to compete in both the WWE and UFC is Brock Lesnar. Lesnar was a former all American wrestler and WWE champion, who built a reputation with his freakish size and athleticism. For a man like Lesnar though, the comforts of the world he knew were not enough to satisfy his competitive urges.
Lesnar burst on to the MMA scene in 2007 in his debut against Min Soo Kim, defeating the Japanese fighter by submission due to strikes in the first round.
What followed was a streak of fights that defied all the odds. Despite losing in his UFC debut against former heavyweight champ Frank Mir, Lesnar was able to put together a four fight win streak that saw him win and defend the UFC heavyweight title on two occasions- taking out scalps such as Randy Couture and Shane Carwin in the process.
To date, Lesnar remains the only athlete who has reached the pinnacle of both sports.
When word got out that one of the most successful WWE athletes of the modern era was making the crossover to the UFC, the world of MMA stood up and took notice.
CM Punk would aim to replicate the success of his predecessor, Brock Lesnar, and take a shot at conquering the most dangerous Combat sport on the planet.
This fairytale however was not to be realised, and after 18 months of promotion from the UFC, Punk was stopped – by rear naked choke – in the first round of his debut, after being dominated by new comer Micky Gall.
Matt Riddle: successful
Former TUF 7 competitor Matt Riddle was steadily making his way up the UFC rankings – but with a four fight win streak and a record of (8-2-3) Riddle’s MMA career was cut short.
Riddle was released by the UFC after twice testing positive for marijuana during competition. Riddle however was not to be deterred. After taking one fight outside of the UFC, the star turned to the world of Professional wrestling, making himself a massive hit with fans ever since.
Currently Matt Riddle is an independent wrestler, recognised as rookie of the year and most improved wrestler of the year by The Wrestling Observer Newsletter. If Riddle continues on his current trajectory the bright lights of the WWE will not be far away.
Ronda Rousey: Unsuccessful
As the biggest star in female Combat sports, Ronda Rousey became a household name while dominating the Women’s Bantamweight division, with her vicious arm bars and judo throws.
Her aspirations didn’t stop at fighting though, and when Wrestlemania 31 rolled round in 2015 it was no surprise to see the Rowdy one make an appearance along side Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. So why did Rousey’s seemingly successful debut end up being her first and last appearance with the organisation?
It would seem as though it was her failings in the UFC that ultimately led to her demise in the world of wrestling. After suffering 2 brutal KOs to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunez, Rousey faced a massive public backlash that saw her dropped from a number of lead film roles, as well as many other lucrative opportunities including the WWE.
By Lewis Smith