5 WWE Superstars Besides Punk and Lesnar that Flirted in MMA

The announcement of CM Punk’s signing by the UFC has generated both exciting and outrage among fans and UFC fighters. While many fans and media members are referencing CM Punk’s former WWE coworker, fellow Paul Heyman protégé, and former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar as the other WWE Superstar that made the jump from pro wrestling to MMA, he is far from the first WWE superstar to do so. UFC Hall of Famers Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn found success in the UFC before jumping to the WWE when the UFC was being banned in the late 1990s, before eventually returning to MMA after their WWE runs. Here are 5 WWE superstars who also made the jump to MMA with very mixed results.

Bam Bam Bigelow

The Beast from the East, was well known for both his flaming skull tattoo and his athletic big man style in the squared circle. The WWE veteran and former ECW Champion headlined Wrestlemania 11 against NFL great Lawrence Taylor. In 1996, Bigelow went to Japan to compete against UFC veteran Kimo Leopoldo in a MMA match. Some have speculated that Bigelow thought it would be a “worked” match where the match would be scripted and did not realize that the match was “very much real” until it started. Bigelow was caught in a rear naked choke by Leopoldo in a little over 2 minutes.

Sean O’Haire

The late Sean O’Haire found success in both WCW and WWE in the late 1990s and early 2000s when he was one half of a successful tag team with Chuck Palumbo. The duo held the WCW tag team championship 3 times. After finishing his run in the WWE, he started a MMA career and amassed a 4-2 record. His most notable fight was at Pride 32 in Las Vegas  against Eric ‘Butterbean’ Esch, who coincidently appeared in Wrestlemania 15 and knocked out Bart Gunn in a real boxing match in just 27 seconds.   O’Haire fared slightly better than Gunn, by lasting 29 seconds in the ring before getting knocked out.

Ludvig Borga/Tony Halme

Tony Halme appeared in the WWE in the early 1990s as the Finnish heel Ludvig Borga, who feuded against fan favorites including Lex Luger, Tatanka, and Razor Ramon. After his WWE career, Halme competed as both a boxer and MMA fighter. He found moderate success in the boxing ring, putting together a respectable 13-6 record, but was 0-4 in MMA. He did make one appearance in the UFC octagon when he faced future UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture, who choked Halme out in 56 seconds.

Bobby Lashley

Bobby Lashley made a highly anticipated jump to MMA on the heels of Brock Lesnar winning the UFC heavyweight title in late 2008. Like Lesnar, Lashley was a physically imposing heavyweight with a very decorated amateur wrestling background who had headlined many major WWE pay-per-view events. During his WWE run, Lashley held the WWE US title and the ECW Championship. His MMA career started off strong with 5 straight wins, but in his sixth fight under the Strikeforce banner, Lashley lost in a controversial fashion to Chad Griggs. Lashley was dominating the fight in the second round, but was very fatigued. He had full mount on Griggs and was working his ground and pound when the referee called time to check on a cut underneath Lashley’s left eye. Rather than restart in the mount, the referee restarted the fighters on their feet with 32 seconds left in the round. Lashley shot for a double leg takedown, but Griggs sprawled and then stood up and hammer fisted Lashley who was on his knees and holding onto Griggs’ leg for dear life. After the round  ended, the referee called the fight after seeing Lashley unable to get up and get to his corner. Overall, Lashley has put together an impressive 12-2 record and will be trying to avenge his other MMA loss against James Thompson when they meet again at Bellator 133 in February 2015.

Alberto Del Rio

Alberto Del Rio is the son of the legendary masked Mexican luchador, Dos Caras. He started his wrestling career in the Mexican promotion AAA in the early 2000, while also training for MMA with MMA pioneer Marco Ruas. Del Rio worked as both a pro wrestler and MMA fighter in Japan and Mexico until 2010 when he signed on to work fulltime with the WWE. He compiled a solid 9-5 record in MMA with his most high profile match being against Pride Grand Prix Champion and kickboxing legend Mirko Cro Cop at Pride Bushido 1 in 2003. Del Rio, honored his father by competing as Dos Caras and wearing a luchador mask during the fight. Cro Cop finished the fights in 46 seconds by landing a head kick that put Del Rio to sleep.



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