30 years ago the debate would be which pro wrestler was the toughest of the locker room. Today, it is about which pro wrestler could jump over to the UFC. So I thought I would have a little fun and take a look at 5 WWE superstars that have the intangibles to fight in the UFC.
Please keep one thing in mind with this entire list. I am certainly not saying that all of these guys would jump into the UFC or MMA and have the success that Brock Lesnar. All I am saying is that these five guys have the background and skills to at least attempt a jump to MMA without embarrassing themselves.
So with that said, let’s dive deep into the resumes of your favorite WWE superstars and take a look at who has a shot…albeit a long shot of jumping into the octagon. Whether they would be Brock Lesnar or Bobby Lashley will always be up for debate until the day comes when they bite down on the mouth guard and throw down in the world of MMA.
Wade Barrett - For those of you unaware, Wade Barrett is probably one of the most street-tough superstars in the WWE. Barrett is a former bareknuckle boxer. In other words, Barrett boxed for years in his native England…but without gloves. I have no doubt that Barrett could jump into the octagon tomorrow and at least be competitive on his feet.
Santino Marella - How ironic is it that one of the toughest guys in the WWE is portrayed as one of the wimpiest? Forget about the guy you see on RAW and SmackDown (well barely), Santino is one tough dude. Santino also has minimal experience in MMA which makes you wonder about how well he’d fare at this stage of his career.
Santino is well experienced in judo, practicing judo for over 20 years. According to one report, I saw that he had a 6-1 record but I haven’t seen much else. Santino said in an interview awhile back that the only reason he left Japan and MMA was that he overstayed his Visa. If that is the case, he is one guy that could do some serious damage if he was to jump back into the world of MMA.
Dolph Ziggler - You would never believe it watching him in the ring but Dolph is one of, if not the most accomplished amateur wrestler in the WWE. Dolph was a standout high school and collegiate wrestler. Even better, he was teammates with Gray Maynard who appears to have done pretty darn good with his transition into MMA.
How good was Dolph as an amateur wrestler? Ziggler scored an unbelievable 82 pins which is a record in high school. At Kent University, Ziggler holds the second most wins in school history at 121. He is as legit as they come. He would certainly have to work on his standup and submissions, but the guy appears to be a prodigy of sorts. Even better, imagine the fun confrontations between Vickie Guerrero and Dana White!
Alberto Del Rio - Alberto like Santino, is the only man on this list to actually have MMA experience. Unfortunately Del Rio’s success in MMA wasn’t quite the same, going 9-5 overall. However, I think it is fair to say that he has more actual MMA experience than anyone in the WWE right now. Who knows how well he would do if he returned to the sport.
Alberto’s amateur wrestling background is one of the most impressive in pro wrestling history. Alberto is a Mexican national champion freestyle, won the Greco-Roman bronze medal teenage world championships; 1997, and placed 5th at 214 pounds Pan American Games.
Well quite frankly I don’t think he’d do that well at all. He does hold a record of 7 wins by submission which is none too shabby. He even put together a six fight win streak before joining the WWE. However, at 34 and after a few years inside the WWE, he probably has the least shot of making any real waves than anyone on the list. Ironic because if there was anyone that could certainly give it a go tomorrow, it would be him.
Jack Swagger - If Jack Swagger jumped into the world of pro wrestling 30-40 years ago, he would probably have had several NWA world title reigns by now and be regarded as a pro wrestling legend today. That is because Swagger is boasts an outstanding amateur wrestling record and with his size, he would have been a top draw for years throughout the territory.
With his size and his athletic background, Swagger could conceivably be a powerhouse in MMA. Of course he would have to train hard and develop a standup game, but he could certainly hold his own on the ground. His background shows a guy that is great at anything he sets out to do athletically. He’d also be fighting as a heavyweight, which doesn’t always have the best athletes. At 6’6, 263, and 29 years old he has all of the tools to jump into the octagon with some training and make some real noise in the MMA world.
Will any of these guys make the leap to MMA? I don’t think so. But it would be interesting if they did.
Note: This was originally published on October 13, 2011