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Transitions From Wrestling to Mixed Martial arts

By Edited Oct 27, 2013 1 3

Brock Lesnar photo provided by Oakster
Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley were both at one time big stars in the WWE, although more recently both have become mixed martial arts fighters. However despite the similarities between the two, both in size and choice of career, they chose almost opposite approaches to entering the new sport.

Brock Lesnar (left) was probably the bigger star in professional wrestling and has more recognition from fans of either sport. He was able to use this recognition and pay per view drawing power to enter the UFC after only one professional fight. To those not fans of the sport, the UFC is currently the largest MMA promotion in the world, and is certainly the place to fight in the United States if you are good enough.

So far in his career Lesnar has a record of 4-1, having lost to former champion Frank Mir in his second career fight. He also holds the UFC heavyweight championship of the world, after bludgeoning an ageing Randy Couture and avenging his loss to Frank Mir in his most recent fight. Despite these achievements however Lesnar is fairly unpopular within the long time fans of MMA, largely because of the WWE connections, although partialy because of either his own personality or the character he has decided to play. After his most recent fight with Frank Mir, he not only used the opportunity to verbally attack Mir, but committed the ultimate sin when he insulted the UFCs main sponsor of the night. He was made to apologise by Dana White, but his image in the eyes of the fans as a heel was firmly implanted.

The fact that he also has the hulking frame and seeming dominance in the cage also enhances this image, with some fans already saying he is near unbeatable. Of course with only 5 fights to his name this is soemthing of a redndant conclusion, and it could be argued that the opposition he fought were either past their best or were easy match ups stylistically for any huge wrestler. Randy Couture originally dropped down in weight after losing to stronger wrestlers, and similarly Heath Herring has always had lackluster grappling as well. Frank Mir has an excellent submission game, but has always had suspect conditioning, as well as a prediliction to getting caught when over committing to a particular sub. How well Lesnar will do against someone either as large as him (he cuts from around 280lbs to make the 265lb limit), someone as good at wrestling or a puncher remains to be seen. Some fans have even questioned whether he would beat the undisputed number one heavyweight in the world Fedor Emelianenko, although the breakdown of the negociations between M-1 (Fedors management) and the UFC makes this a moot point for the moment. Whether his albeit impressive five victories would match the ultimate zenith of Fedors 30-1 record remains to be seen.

Bobby Lashley (below right) on the other hand has seemingly taken the other option for starting his MMA career, and has opted to fight in smaller shows until his skills warrant him being in the larger organizations. This has gained him a little more respect from the hardcore anti wrestling fans, although not enough considering the pay cut he will have taken in choosing this route. It does bode well for his continued survival in the sport however, and getting a more complete skill base before being thrown into the mix with the best heavyweights in the world is a better way to leave you with a winning record. All too many athletes from other sports have decided to give MMA a try, only to lose their first few matches by being placed against vastly more experienced competition from the get go, Pawel Nastula springs to mind as one example.

Currently sporting a 4-0 record, Lashley has been less impressive than Lesnar, having been taken to a decision by the lowly regarded Jason Guida, brother of the UFC's Clay Guida. He has answered one important question however in beating Bob 'the beast' Sapp who is one of the very few fighters larger than either Lashley or Lesnar. Standing 6,5 and weighing somewhere in the region of 320lbs, Sapp is truly a massive individual, and what he lacks in skill he often makes up for in strength. Lashley expectedly beat him easily however, and showcased both his wrestling and strategic ability (having stated in the build up he would stand and trade with Sapp, he more wisely took him down and ended the fight relatively quickly).

For a long time fans of MMA have been able to scoff at wrestling, with its steroid abuse, seemingly endless list of troubled performers and scripted matches. Wrestling is seen as the kids sport to MMA's serious competition, and Lesnar, a former Wrestler coming in and winning seems to suggest that there is more to wrestlers than being pumped up and wearing a lot of spandex. Whether the UFC would ever allow a main event between two prominent former wrestlers is another matter for another day, and Lashley will need to string together a few more wins before this becomes an issue.
Bobby Lashley

People are all too soon to forget that the two sports have had a long history of cross over fighters, and it goes both ways as well. The likes of Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Don Frye and numerous other Japanese fighters in particular have all come from professional wrestling. Often when fighters get too old to take the physical punishment of actually fighting they then switch to wrestling instead to make some easy money. This has been a part of both sports since mixed martial arts was created commercially in the early 90s. Even now for example, recently discraced heavyweight Josh Barnett still competes in wrestlign matches in Japan, and Bobby Lashley himself still does bit parts for TNA wrestling between MMA matches.

The days of wrestling paying a lot better then mixed martial arts are also coming to an end seemingly however, with top fighters now making more than top wrestlers. Meaning that in the future we will most likely see a lot of wrestlers transition into MMA, particularly those with large enough fanbases to make a lot of money for only a few fights.


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Comments

Oct 23, 2009 3:10pm
jcmayer777
I'm a fan of both pro wrestling and mma. I really think the main reason some of the pro wrestlers could have success is based more on their amateur wrestling background. Lesnar is a former collegiate national champ. This, combined with the strength that comes from pro wrestling, makes these guys a threat. Of course, I would guess there are only a few that could truly climb the mma ranks.

JC Mayer
Dec 3, 2009 2:28am
goingforbroke
Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley are both freakish athletes but I can't wait to see how Brock Lesnar does against somebody else closer to his size with ability like a Shane Carwin or Cain Velasquez.
Aug 8, 2010 3:43pm
Travis_Aitch
Brock is a beast and has definitely proved his worth in mixed martial arts. He took a beating from Carwin and still came back to win. Anyone who comes from a strong wrestling background is going to fare well in the UFC. Great article!
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