4 Times UFC went WWE
MMA fans take pride in the fact that their sport of choice is all about real fighting. People are actually trying to submit or knock out one another, and there aren’t predetermined outcomes or planned spots, much less an objective of keeping everyone safe. Indeed, particularly in its early days making headway, UFC leaned into its image of violence and danger.
Things have shifted over time, however. UFC still presents a legitimate sport, but a more polished one with more refined rules, sold to a wider audience. Additionally, the sport is now geared towards building toward big fights and selling storylines that get them there alongside pushing the athletic credentials of the fighters involved.
In short, UFC has had its moments of feeling a lot like WWE.
To be fair, there’s still a significant divide between MMA and pro-wrestling, but the flagship promotions of each endeavor have their similarities, and there have been times when UFC more overtly seems to be tapping into the WWE ethos. This article takes a look at four times when that dynamic was clearly at play.
#4 Israel Adesanya channels The Rock
Israel Adesanya has turned heads for not only his talent as a UFC fighter but the showmanship he has espoused, which make him come across as a relatable star. Yes, UFC 234 saw him add an important bullet point to his resume in defeating legend Anderson Silva, which elevated his professional fight record to 16-0. But what may have been even more captivating was the build to the Silva fight, in which he channeled The Rock.
Adesanya capped his Open Workout performance in advance of UFC 234, by straight up delivering the People’s Elbow to his sparring partner. While there are those wrestling throws, strikes, and holds that believably translate—or were even derived from—MMA, the People’s Elbow is considered over the top even by pro wrestling standards. In using it, Adesanya was openly highlighting the ways in which his entertaining persona derives from the world of sports entertainment.