Over the years, we’ve seen a few professional wrestlers transition — or attempt to transition — to MMA. When CM Punk decided to dip his toes into the MMA waters, he was annihilated by an up-and-comer and he hasn’t been heard from his since. Brock Lesnar, on the other hand, made the leap from pro wrestling to the UFC and won the heavyweight title.
What’s less common is for UFC fighters to transition to pro wrestling. But that is all set to change. MMA fighters are starting to branch out and it’s only a matter of time until we see a UFC star enter the squared circle.
Who will be first to make the leap? Here are my top picks.
Odds on the next MMA fighter to join the WWE
Ronda Rousey: 4/1
Ronda Rousey’s MMA career is in shambles after she staked everything on her comeback against Amanda Nunes, only to have the fight stopped in the opening seconds. But her personal brand remains strong. She already has a ready-made persona for pro wrestling, plus a fanbase that will follow her wherever she goes.
She made an appearance at WrestleMania 31 last year alongside The Rock, and it seems she already has a knack for the performance aspect of the sport.
Paige VanZant: 4/1
Paige VanZant has received an enormous amount of attention, but her level of exposure doesn’t quite match her fighting ability. Despite her mediocre fight record, she’s received a ton of media attention and has been presented as the new female face of the UFC. She’s been a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, will soon be competing in the cooking show Chopped, and even has a memoir in the works.
Her charisma and athleticism may be better suited to pro wrestling than MMA, and there’s probably more money there for her anyway.
Chael Sonnen: 17/3
Sonnen is currently one fight into his multi-fight contract with Bellator. When this contract expires, he’ll probably leave the sport for good. After 45 professional fights, the 39-year-old veteran probably won’t be able to take much more damage.
He’s a lifelong pro wrestling fan with a penchant for trash talking. He brought WWE-style showmanship to the UFC, so pro-wrestling would be a natural fit for the American Gangster.
Sage Northcutt: 91/9
For a while, the UFC was grooming Northcutt to be its next posterchild. But his ability didn’t quite live up to the hype. It’s only a matter of time until the UFC abandons him for another young, all-American fighter. His wholesome, family-friendly persona is perfect for this more PG era of the WWE. He would make for a great John Cena-type character.
Conor McGregor: 65/1
No matter what McGregor chooses to do, fans will pay to watch. His attitude and outspokenness make him a perfect fit for the WWE, but with so many options available to him, it’s unlikely he’ll choose to enter the world of pro wrestling anytime soon.
He has two UFC title belts around his waist and a possible boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in the works, so he’s already got enough on his plate. However, if the lucrative Mayweather fight doesn’t materialize and the WWE is putting dough on the table, the Irishman may follow the money.
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