Over the years, we have seen several high-profile professional wrestlers’ transition into the world of mixed martial arts and vice versa. Of course, those who have left the world of sports entertainment and decided to dabble in cage fighting have had varying degrees of success.
However, regardless of the level of success they ultimately achieve, these transitional stars usually make plenty of headlines. When pro wrestlers like Brock Lesnar and CM Punk signed with the UFC it received a ton of media coverage That being said, several pro wrestlers have had bouts (or even careers) in MMA that flew completely under the radar.
Here are a few of them.
10 Bam Bam Bigelow
Bam Bam Bigelow was a 390-pound wrestler who moved like a man half his size. The agile superstar was known for his signature head-tattoo and aggressive style. He is perhaps best remembered for headlining WrestleMania XI in a match with NFL star Lawrence Taylor. Bigelow also had memorable runs in both ECW and WCW.
These days, there aren’t many fans who remember the big man’s lone professional MMA fight, which took place back on November 17, 1996. On that date, Bigelow faced MMA legend Kimo Leopolda at a U-Japan event. That evening things didn’t go Bigelow’s way. He was taken down with relative ease and lost the bout via rear-naked choke, in the first round.
9 Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio (aka Alberto El Patron) is best known for his time in WWE, in which he became the first-ever Mexican-born world champ in the organization’s history. He also had a successful run in Impact Wrestling and won their version of the world title as well.
Before he decided to become a pro wrestler, Del Rio had 14 professional mixed martial arts bouts. He even competed in the popular Japanese-based promotion Pride, back in the early-2000s. He finished his career with a respectable 9-5 professional record. The former WWE champ recently announced that he would be resuming his MMA career (he last fought in 2010) and taking on former UFC champ Tito Ortiz later this Fall.
8 Sean O’Haire
Sean O’Haire was a pro wrestling prospect whose career fell a bit short of expectations. The former Wrestling Observer “Rookie of the Year” (in 2000) is best remembered for his stint in WCW and WWE, during which he became a 3-time WCW Tag Team Champion.
After retiring from wrestling back in 2006, O’Haire went on to compete professionally in both mixed martial arts and kickboxing. As an MMA fighter, he had a total of 6 professional fights and a solid 4-2 record. His most high-profile fight took place in October of 2006, when we took on former boxing star Butterbean. The contest took place at Pride 32 and ended with Butterbean knocking out the former wrestler in just 29 seconds.
7 Kid Kash
Kid Kash is high-flyer who first made a name for himself in the late-90s in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). After stints in both TNA and WCW, he would eventually sign with WWE in 2005. During that time, Kash would become WWE Cruiserweight Champion. These days, the 50-year-old Virginia native can found performing on the independent circuit.
Kash, who has boxed since he was seven years of age, has had two pro MMA fights. In 2008, he fought a man by the name of Bryan Brown and would lose the bout via decision. His second fight would happen several years later in November of 2016. This time around the former WWE champ was knocked out in just 38 seconds by a fighter named Lindsey Jones.
6 Giant Silva
In North America, Giant Silva is best remembered for his run with WWE in the late-90s as member of the carnival-inspired faction known as the Oddities. While he had little success in WWE, Silva would go on to have better luck in Japanese promotions like New Japan and Huttle.
The 7-foot-2 wrestler also tried his hand at mixed martial arts. Silva competed in a total of eight bouts from 2003 to 2006. Seven of his eight fights were under the PRIDE banner, and all of them took place in Japan. The big man found little success inside the cage and finished his career with a 2-6 professional record.
5 Jack Gallagher
Gentleman Jack Gallagher is a British pro wrestler who is currently performing for WWE as a member of their 205 Live roster. Throughout most of his stint with WWE, he has been primarily used as a comedy act – though he has still earned a reputation as a solid in-ring performer.
Prior to making pro wrestling his primary career focus, the gentleman had a couple of MMA bouts under the name Jack Claffey (his real name is Oliver Claffey). He finished his short-lived fighting career with a 2-0 record. He also called out CM Punk at one point and there are reports that indicated Bellator MMA would be interested in signing the 205 Live standout.
4 Ludvig Borga
Ludvig Borga (aka Tom Halme) had a short, but memorable career in WWE from 1993 to 1994. The Finnish wrestler was brought in to feud with Lex Luger. While he was featured prominently on television, Borga would suffer an ankle injury and end up leaving the company soon after.
After parting ways with WWE, he would go on to compete as both a professional boxer and mixed martial artist. Borga even had one fight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and shared the Octagon with the legendary Randy Couture at UFC 13, back in 1997. Couture would go on to submit Borga early in the first round, in what would be the former WWE stars last MMA fight. Borga’s pro record would end up being 1-4.
3 Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones was an Australian professional wrestler who was part of the WWE roster from 2002 to 2003. His most memorable angle during his time with company was when he served as The Undertaker’s protégé. Jones abruptly quit WWE in 2003 and cited the rigorous travel schedule as the primary reason for doing so. The 6-foot-11 Aussie has also appeared in several major motion pictures including Troy and Mad Max: Fury Road.
In 1997, Jones competed in his first and only professional MMA fight at Pride 1. The former WWE star took on sumo champion by the name of Koji Kitao. Kitao would end up winning the fight via submission.
2 Craig Pittman
Sgt. Craig “Pitbull” Pittman was a member of the United States Marine Corps in the early -90s, who would later go on to sign with World Championship Wrestling (WCW). He wrestled with WCW from 1995 to 1997 and was primarily a mid-card act, who would occasionally compete for secondary titles.
The former Marine also fought in a total of four mixed martial arts bout. He fought twice in 1995 for a promotion called Vale Tudo and would go 1-1. He would later fight two more times in 2011 and 2012 respectively – once again going 1-1. Pittman would finish his pro-MMA run with a 2-2 record.
1 Lei'D Tapa
Lei’D Tapa is a pro wrestler who is perhaps best known for time performing in Impact Wrestling from 2013 to 2014. WWE fans will also remember her as a participant in the 2017 Mae Young Classic tournament, where she was eliminated by Ember Moon.
While also performing as a professional wrestler, Tapa was competing in mixed martial arts. She fought twice for the Japanese-based promotion Rizin in 2015 and 2017 respectively – taking on very capable fighters in Gabrielle Garcia and Reina Miura. The former TNA standout would end up losing both fights, but she did manage to go the distance with Miura in her second bout.