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MMA Fighters Transitioning to Pro-Wrestling: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly


(Let me guess, it’ll sound something like “Tito Ortiz, The Huntington Bad Beach Boy: Future NTA world TNA heavyweight champion of the world.” Capture via ProWresBlog.Blogspot.Com.)

For some MMA fighters, professional wrestling was just a one-time cash grab. For others, it became a second career. Inspired by yet another week of TNA Impact Wrestling’s efforts to get anyone to care about the professional wrestling experiments of two broken-down MMA legends, we’ll be examining fighters who took up professional wrestling after they made their names in MMA in our newest installment of The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.

Bear in mind that this article is focusing on mixed martial artists who transitioned to professional wrestling careers, and not fighters who started off as professional wrestlers. So that means fighters like Brock Lesnar, Ken Shamrock, Bobby Lashley, Giant Silva, Bob Sapp, Dos Caras Jr. (aka Alberto Del Rio), Dan Severn (Google it) and Sakuraba will not be covered here — although a few of these men will make appearances in this article. Let’s start off on a positive note…

The Good

The Professional Wrestling Career of Josh Barnett.

When you’re thinking of good instances of an MMA fighter turning to professional wrestling as a second career choice, Josh Barnett should immediately come to mind. There have been other fighters who dabbled in professional wrestling, but Barnett is one of the only ones to be just as popular and successful in it as he was in MMA.

Before his transition, Barnett became the youngest heavyweight champion in UFC history by defeating Randy Couture at UFC 36. After being stripped of his title due to a positive drug test, Barnett set his sights on the Japanese professional wrestling scene, where the fans value legitimacy and toughness from their wrestlers more than mic skills and charisma (although Barnett has both in spades). He immediately challenged for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, and although he came up short, he went on to enjoy the most relevant crossover career of any fighter on this list before his return to the UFC earlier this year put a halt to the wrasslin’ for the time being.

It’d be easy to call his work with the incredibly underrated Perry Saturn or the technical wrestling clinic that he put on against Hideki Suzuki his most impressive stuff, but it’s probably not. Honest to God, Barnett’s biggest accomplishment may be the fact that he managed to pull Bob Sapp — who has the same cardio and technique in wrestling as he does in MMA — through a watchable match. How many people can claim that?

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Horrible Video of the Day: Pro Wrestler Nearly Kills Himself During Botched Moonsault


(Don’t try this at home, kids. / Props: Peezy P via Deadspin)

Among pro-wrestling moves, aerial techniques are about as high-risk/high-reward as they come. Brock Lesnar nearly ended his career fucking up a shooting-star press at Wrestlemania XIX, and at a Beyond Wrestling show in Rhode Island on September 30th, Atlanta-based wrestler Charade botched one even worse, under-rotating during a moonsault and landing directly on the top of his head. The horrific impact fractured Charade’s skull, and immediately silenced the meager crowd. But Charade — working off of pure muscle memory — remained conscious and actually kicked out his opponent’s first attempt at a pin before letting the match come to a merciful conclusion.

Beyond Wrestling is hosting a charity dinner/event this Sunday in Bridgewater, MA, to raise money for Charade’s medical expenses.

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TNA Wrestler King Mo Crosses Over to the Dark Side, Calls MMA a ‘Joke’


(“I don’t give a damn about some Bellator fighter that goes by the name of King Mo.” Well, that makes two of you. Video via TNAWrestling)

When Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal signed a dual-contract with Bellator and TNA Wrestling earlier this year, fans wondered how he’d be able to straddle the often-opposing worlds of real fighting and show fighting — a rare trick to pull off outside of Japan. But Lawal’s one-year suspension for steroids has allowed him to focus the majority of his energies on learning the pro wrestling game, and we’re starting to get the feeling that we might lose him altogether. Call it hunch, based on the fact that Mo thinks MMA is a fad, and can’t stand you people. Here’s what he told BleacherReport in an interview published yesterday:

It starts with the way the fans don’t think for themselves,” Lawal stated. “They have to look to certain people for approval on how they think. They bash the fighters and think fighting is easier than it really is. A lot of people didn’t grow up fighting. They grew up playing football and basketball. So they can relate to missing a pass, a layup, free throws and dropping a pass, an interception or kicking a field goal.

MMA fans never grew up fighting. They just put on their Affliction or Tapout shirts and say, ‘Hey I’m a fighter or hey I’m going to a fight.’ To me, its a joke. It is a certain demographic that’s involved and I’m not with that.

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Brock Lesnar Gets Clotheslined Out of the Ring on 1,000th Episode of WWE Raw [VIDEO]


(Props: WWEFanNation)

After some awful soap opera bullshit involving Paul Heyman and Triple H, former cage-fighter Brock Lesnar showed up on the historic 1,000th episode of WWE Raw last night to save his manager from getting slapped to death by Stephanie McMahon. Though his last run-in with Triple H ended in a Submission of the Night performance, Brock got the short end of the script this time, and was clotheslined directly out of the ring. (Perfect execution on that fall, by the way. The man’s still got it.)

Plus, the Undertaker and Kane reunited, and Fozzie Bear showed up. Hardcore, bro.

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[VIDEO] CM Punk Pays Tribute to Chael Sonnen’s Spinning Mindfart During ‘WWE Raw’


(Chael Sonnen, seen here learning a lesson that Judd Nelson taught the rest of us back in the 80′s. All props be to Fightlinker for the find.) 

At this point, we’ve moved past the “illegal” knee, the shorts grabbing, and the vaseline that may or may not have marred Anderson Silva’s destruction of Chael Sonnen at UFC 148. We are not going to convince anyone to change their minds in regards to the gravity (or lack thereof) of Silva’s actions and whether or not they affected the outcome of the fight, and neither will you, because, as Ollie Weeks once said, “You can’t convince some people there’s a fire even when their hair is burning. Denial is a powerful thing.” And before you lash out at our use of the term “destruction” to describe the fight, first consider that that was the term used by Sonnen himself to describe Silva’s tenacity in the second round. According to Dana White, that is:

This is what Chael Sonnen said to me after the fight. He didn’t say it at the press conference, but he said it to me. He said, ‘I have so much respect for this guy, Dana. I’ve been competing in combat sports since I was seven years old. In that first round, when I was on top of him, hittin’ him with those big elbows, I felt him break. I broke him in that first round. He came back in the second round and destroyed me. I’ve never seen anybody do that, ever.

So now that we’ve all put aside our differences, we’d like to focus for a moment on the monumental mistake that was Sonnen’s spinning backfist, which has already begun to take on a life of its own as evident by the header gif. In fact, Sonnen’s mental error has become so popular over the past few days that his good friend and pro wrassler CM Punk decided to reenact the end of the fight on last night’s episode of WWE: Monday Night Raw. Although the result was as to be expected (a major whiff), Punk’s spinning backfist was arguably thrown with better technique.

Video after the jump. 

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Brock Lesnar Breaks Triple H’s Arm With a Kimura [Not Really] [VIDEO]


(Props: MMAMania)

Brock Lesnar‘s latest Monday Night Raw appearance ended in a brawl with Triple H and a kimura that appeared to snap the WWE COO‘s arm. (Don’t worry guys, I think some of this wrestling stuff is fake.) Lesnar also used a kimura in his “Extreme Rules” match against John Cena on Sunday night — which was set up to look like a legit MMA bout, right down to the gash on Cena’s head — but wound up losing via pin. You can watch highlights from that wild performance after the jump.

Wrestling ripping off MMA, MMA ripping off wrestling…can’t we all just admit that we love each other?

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Brock Lesnar’s Double-Leg Takedown and Ground-and-Pound Are as Dangerous as Ever [VIDEO]


(From last night’s edition of WWE Raw. / Props: ReyWWETVWeekly via MMAMania)

Brock Lesnar‘s beef with John Cena continues in the land of make-believe, and well, sometimes these things happen in professional wrestling. I promise we won’t force you to watch this stuff each week, but it’s interesting how Brock’s UFC fighting style is now influencing his performances in the wrestling ring. Previously in the clip (around the 1:42 mark), Lesnar thanks John Laurinaitis “for having the wisdom to bring legitimacy back to the WWE.” Any wrestling fans out there care to agree or disagree with that statement?

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Kazushi Sakuraba to Dig Out the Ol’ Orange Wrestling Briefs for DREAM/IGF New Year’s Eve Show


(Human speed-chess: Kazushi Sakuraba and Kiyoshi Tamura put in work at a UWFi show in March 1996. Video via theperfectone)

If you’re a student of Japanese MMA history like we are, you know that legendary fighter Kazushi Sakuraba got his start as a professional wrestler in the 1990s, honing his grappling chops in the UWFi and Kingdom Pro Wrestling leagues. But once he tasted success at the UFC Japan tournament in December 1997, Saku’s career shifted away from worked matches, and he soon became PRIDE’s most beloved native hero.

Now 42 years old and riding a four-fight losing streak — the last three losses by stoppage — Sakuraba has agreed to re-capture some of his lost youth in a tag-team wrestling match at Fight For Japan: Genki Desu Ka Omisoka 2011, the New Year’s Eve show promoted by DREAM and IGF at the Saitama Super Arena. Sakuraba will team up with fellow wrestling/MMA crossover star Katsuyori Shibata, against Shinichi Suzukawa and Atsushi Sawada. (I’ve never heard of the second guy, but Suzukawa is that dude who beat Mark Coleman even though he wasn’t supposed to.)

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