We are exactly one month removed from the mixed martial arts in-ring debut of Phil Brooks, aka CM Punk. The former WWE Champion, who signed with the UFC in December of 2014, lost to relatively unknown fighter Mickey Gall at the UFC 203 pay-per-view.
As expected, the UFC hype machine was in full effect heading into the bout, as UFC die-hards, professional wrestling fans, and fight enthusiasts in general tuned in to watch the former WWE superstar. Despite all the attention, it didn’t stop CM Punk from delivering a dud in his first ever fight, as he was easily dominated by the previously little-known Gall, who came into the event at 2-0.
The loss by Punk wasn’t exactly surprising, given that not only was it was his first ever pro fight, but he was doing it in the sport’s biggest promotion. The only real disappointment was the fact that despite training for the past 18 months at the respected MMA academy Roufusport, the man who often referred to himself as the “best in the world” in a wrestling ring, was stopped just 2:14 into the 1st round via a rear naked choke.
Due to Punk’s underwhelming debut, we have decided to dive back into the world of sports-entertainment to find some wrestlers who could not only replace the Chicago, Illinois native in the octagon, but would have a better showing. With that said, we here at TheSportster give you the Top 15 WWE Superstars Who Would Do Better In The UFC Than CM Punk.
We should point out that Brock Lesnar will be excluded from this list, given how he’s already proven to be a successful UFC fighter.
15. Sin Cara
Don’t let the lack of size of the former Lucha Dragon fool you, Sin Cara is more than capable of holding his own in a fight. Over the last two years the man formerly known as Hunico has gotten the best of the much bigger Sheamus and Simon Gotch of the Vaudevillians in real-life fights backstage. Both wrestlers have a significant advantage over the former tag-team specialist in both the height and weight department. If the masked luchador can take care of business against those two, what do you think he would do in the world of MMA?
You can’t teach toughness and Sin Cara, who grew up on the rough streets of Mexico City, Mexico, has a lot of that. If the 205 pound light heavyweight ever got into the octagon, it would be that trait, along with fearlessness and athletic ability that would carry him in that division, as he would have to deal with the likes of Rashad Evans, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, Alexander Gustafsson, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and the champion Daniel Cormier, among others.
While the odds of the wrestler pulling off the upset would be a million to one, you have to imagine that he would last longer than the 2:14 that Punk did, if he were to go one-on-one with someone of Mickey Gall’s experience.
We got the females covered here as well, and who better to start off with than the Queen of Harts? Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart’s daughter has the toughness category checked off, as she is the only female to graduate from the iconic Hart family dungeon.
Natalya’s wrestling ability is phenomenal. Throughout her WWE tenure, she has carried much lesser opponents to good and even great matches, while she has gone toe-to-toe and usually outperformed experienced women’s competitors like Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Naomi, the current champ Charlotte, and even Beth Phoenix.
The former Divas Champion also brings strength, speed, and athleticism to the table as well, which would definitely serve her in the octagon. Although she doesn’t have any experience in the cage, she is not foreign to MMA, as she has trained with UFC stars in the past like Josh Barnett, and the Four Horsewomen, Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, Marina Shafir and Ronda Rousey.
13. Seth Rollins
The best wrestler in WWE deserves a spot on the list. The speedy and ultra-athletic Rollins would be a solid addition to the world of mixed martial arts. In the WWE, the 30-year-old has proven his skills time and time again, as he consistently puts on top-notch matches no matter who he is in the ring against. Although Rollins doesn’t posses the monstrous physique that some of the other WWE Superstars on this list have, the 2-time World Heavyweight Champion is still remarkably strong.
12. Kofi Kingston
The New Day member possesses length, athleticism, speed, and strength. Since Kofi Kingston debuted in the WWE’s version of ECW in 2007, he has dazzled us with death-defying moves and athletic ability ever since. From his acrobatics inside the ring, to his innovative ways of preventing himself from being eliminated from the Royal Rumble outside of the squared circle, Kingston, has time and again proven he’s one of the greatest athletes to ever grace a WWE ring.
If Kofi were to ever get into the octagon, you would have to imagine that the former Intercontinental, United States and the current Tag Team Champion (he and CM Punk were the World Tag Team Champions in 2008), would incorporate his long reach to keep the much smaller fighters at bay, and also use his quick-strike ability and power shots to go toe-to-toe with bigger opponents.
The Boston College alum’s potential fighting style is not only transferable to the cage, but in this world of hypotheticals, it would possibly lead to some action packed fights in either the Light Heavyweight or even the Middleweight division, with names like Jon “Bones” Jones, “Suga” Rashad Evans, Ryan Bader, Vitor Belfort, or even “The Spider” himself, Anderson Silva (how interesting would that fight be?).
While you would be hard pressed to find many people who believe that Kingston could pull off an upset against an experienced vet, it’s not unbelievable that the he would put up a much better showing than his friend CM Punk.
We have another WWE second generation superstar making an appearance on the list in Tamina. The daughter of WWE Hall-Of-Famer Jimmy “Superstar” Snuka, and cousin of the most electrifying man in sports entertainment, The Rock, not only has athleticism in her blood, but she also possesses the super strong Samoan strength in her DNA as well.
Whatever Tamina would be lacking in terms of MMA experience, she would more than make up for in size, as she stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 150 pounds. Even though the former Team Bad member would have to shed 15 pounds to be able to fight in the Women’s Bantamweight Division, she would still have the size advantage over many of the UFC’s female fighters. If she were to receive the proper training, and be able to develop a quick-strike game to go with her size, power, and wrestling ability, she would have a good chance at being unstoppable in the octagon. I for one, would be more than interested in seeing her go up against the likes of Holly Holm, Valentina Shevchenko, Cyborg, the aforementioned Ronda Rousey, and of course the champion Amanda Nunes.
10. Kevin Owens
The current WWE Universal Champion already has the mouth to go toe-to-toe with anybody in the UFC. While Kevin might not be the tallest Heavyweight (he is barely 6 foot), he has the strength to match-up with just about anybody in the division. The Merrillville, Quebec native also has the toughness box checked off, as he doesn’t look like someone who would back down from a challenge, given that his motto is “Fight Owens Fight”.
One attribute that separates Owens from his heavyweight counterparts, with the exception of Brock Lesnar, is athleticism. Despite being nearly 270 pounds (266) Owens is not only quick on his feet, but he is capable of pulling off aerial and athletic maneuvers in the wrestling ring that most people his size wouldn’t even dream of attempting.
Owens in the UFC would be amazing to see. I for one would pay good money to watch him take on somebody like “Big Country” Roy Nelson. The mic work at the presser alone would be worth the price of admission.
Pound for pound one of the strongest athletes in the world today, at 6’5 and 235 pounds, the Swiss Superman aka Cesaro, would definitely be able to handle himself in the UFC, as the 2014 Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal winner would be able to take down fighters in both the Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight weight class.
Once he has his opponent on the mat, the former United States Champion can unleash a plethora of submission holds that he has in his repertoire. (Sorry, for those of you hoping for a Cesaro swing. While that would be hilarious to see in the octagon, the chances of that happening would be very slim).
Also blessed with speed and athleticism, Cesaro would be able to rely on those two attributes just as much as his strength, as he could tire out bigger opponents who have the size advantage on him.
Out of all the names on this list, it might make the most sense for this extremely talented wrestler to try jumping into the world of MMA, as it appears that the WWE creative team doesn’t know what to do with Cesaro.
8. Apollo Crews
Is it just me, or does Apollo Crews remind you slightly of Anthony “Rumble” Johnson? WWE’s knockoff of the famous Apollo Creed character from the Rocky movies, looks like the type of wrestler you would create in “creation mode” in a WWE video game.
The 29 year-old, who is listed as 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds, made his main roster debut this past April. While his career seems to be stalled right now, due to the WWE’s poor booking of Crews, there is no denying that he has the ability to be a star, as he has ridiculous athleticism for his size. When you look at him, you would think he’s just a typical powerhouse, but when you see him in action, you would swear he has the athleticism of a lightweight.
That type of skill and athleticism could potentially carry him a long way in the UFC, as he would be able to overpower some opponents, while using his speed, quickness, and stamina to outlast others. While he lacks the experience and training of a UFC vet like the aforementioned Johnson, I’m willing to bet that getting punched by Crews would hurt just as much, and he’d be able to put a little bit more doubt in the minds of his opponents than CM Punk ever could.
7. John Cena
The face of WWE fighting in the UFC is only a pipedream, but if it ever were to happen would be a monumental event. Having John Cena face arguably the most popular fighter in the world in Conor McGregor, would most likely break pay-per-view records, especially after the Irishman had some less-than desirable things to say about professional wrestling, and the 15-time champ in particular, this past summer – “What’s the main guy? John Cena. He’s 40. He’s 40 years of age. He’s walking around in a luminous orange t-shirt and a headband talking about nobody can see him,” the MMA fighter continued. “We can see him right there. He’s a big, fat, 40-year-old failed Mr. Olympia motherf****.” –
Unfortunately for the doctor of thug–a–nomics, and Cena fans everywhere, the dream match will likely never happen, as the wrestler and part-time actor outweighs McGregor by nearly 100 pounds.
Where CM Punk relied upon striking in the cage, if Cena, were to pull off the unthinkable and enter the octagon, the near super-human strength that he has displayed time and time again the WWE, would be what he could fall back on. He could use it to get his opponent down on the mat, and lay heavy blows on the unfortunate individual. He could also use his power to get out of holds and chokes, which Punk wasn’t able to do against Gall.
6. Jack Swagger
At 6-foot-6, nearly 265 pounds, and a background as a former amateur wrestler and football player you would think I was talking about the Beast Incarnate Brock Lesnar, but no, the superstar I am referring to is Jack Swagger. Just like Lesnar, the man behind the “We The People” chant, can put a check in all the necessary boxes like athleticism, strength, power, and even “the look”. He can also fall back on his wrestling and submission background if he ever stepped foot in the UFC. While there is no evidence suggesting that he would be as vicious as Brock in the octagon, you can be sure that the ex-Oklahoma Sooner would last longer than the 2 minutes and 14 seconds that Punk did.
Just like Cesaro, Jack Swagger is somebody who should seriously consider making a jump into the world of mixed martial arts as the WWE creative team seems to have no idea how to use him.
5. Big E
Another member of the New Day makes the list. As one third of the WWE’s current Tag Team Champions, Big E, represents the muscle of the trio, and for good reason, as the 5-foot-11, 285 pounder is a former power lifter who broke numerous United States Power Lifting (USAPL) and Florida (his home state) records as well. When the former NXT champ wasn’t pumping iron, he found the time to play Defensive Tackle for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
As we have seen since the Big E made his main roster debut in 2012, the former United States champ also brings agility, speed, athleticism, and a lot of flair to the ring. If he were able to translate those gifts to the octagon, he would be a star.
If Big E were given the proper training, he might feel obligated to give his opponents a box of Booty O’s after the beating he would give them.
4. Roman Reigns
Another former football player makes the list. While he doesn’t really connect as a fan favorite with the majority of WWE fans, the rough and tough looking Samoan, and former NFL and CFL football player, has a lot of the attributes – namely power, strength, speed, and athleticism – that would not only generate some cheers for him from the UFC’s die-hard fan base, but it would surely help the ex-Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Defensive Tackle leave an impression on the heavyweight division.
Say what you will about Reigns on the microphone, and even his over-all skills as a wrestler. There is no debating that he always delivers in the intensity and physicality department, no matter who he squares off against. If Reigns could carry that as well as his aforementioned package of goods into the UFC, the thought of seeing the former Shield member lock horns with the likes of Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos, Derrick Brown, Ben Rothwell, or even the Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic would be more that just a little interesting. Believe that.
Before becoming a professional wrestler, the man commonly referred to as the “Russian Super Athlete” (he’s actually Bulgarian) was a rower and power lifter. Needless to say, Rusev is extremely athletic. In a wrestling ring, the 300-plus pounder moves around the squared circle with the speed and agility of someone almost half his size.
The two-time United States Champion also displays quick-strike ability and educated feet, as he hits opponents with an array of kicks, which suggests that Rusev already has a background in mixed martial arts.
Like a number of wrestlers on the list, Rusev would also end up in the UFC’s Heavyweight Division. Just like wrestling, where fans like yours truly have come up with hypothetical dream matches, we could do the same thing here. You can’t tell me you wouldn’t want to see the WWE star take on Big Country Roy Nelson, Alistar Overeem, or Fabricio Werdum in the cage.
Besides the action in the octagon, Rusev in the UFC would also give us the added bonus of seeing his wife Lana by his side, like she always is in the WWE.
2. Braun Strowman
The biggest member of the Wyatt Family, is actually a certified strongman, having won the 2011 North American Strongman Amateur National Championships, and the 2012 Arnold Amateur Strongman World Championships.
Strowman, who made his main roster debut in August of 2015, stands at 6-foot-8 and 385 pounds. In the ring, he has used his massive size to dominate opponents no matter how big or small they are. Provided he can take a punch, you would have to imagine that Strowman would use his size and power advantage to just wear down opponents, get them on the mat and unleash a brutal ground and pound attack, similar to that of WWE and UFC star Brock Lesnar.
Speaking of the Beast Incarnate, while a Lesnar versus Strowman showdown in a wrestling ring might not be a match of the year candidate, given the Wyatt Family member’s inexperience in the squared circle, those two facing off in the UFC in a real battle would definitely be must-see television.
1. The Big Show
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. At 7 feet tall, and 450 pounds, The Big Show is huge. By the virtue of his size alone, there is no way that the Grand Slam and Triple Crown Champion would be taken out as quickly as CM Punk was at UFC 203. Now that we’ve taken care of that, let’s look at the bigger picture. If you examine the UFC’s Heavyweight Division from top to bottom, not even the company’s biggest fighters like Travis Browne, Brock Lesnar, Alistair Overeem, or even the “Skyscraper” Stefan Struve, would come close to matching the size or strength of the world’s largest athlete.
While WWE fans, and even casual onlookers have witnessed The Big Show be lifted up, carried, suplexed, body slammed, and even tossed around inside a professional wrestling ring by much smaller men over the years, rest-assured, that none of that takes place whatsoever, without assistance from the 44-year-old.
On the same token, while some of the moves that The Big Show does in the squared circle, like his famous knockout punch and chokeslam are fake, or “dramatized” for effect, you can bet that getting hit in the face by his huge hands, or his 22 size foot, is sure to inflict more than just a little damage.
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