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5 athletes from other sports who fought in MMA

Scott Newman
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Legendary baseball player Jose Canseco stepped into MMA in 2009
Legendary baseball player Jose Canseco stepped into MMA in 2009

In the past decade or so, no sport has grown quite as much as MMA. The rise in popularity of the UFC – and smaller promotions such as Bellator – as well as the popularity of MMA in Japan during the early part of the 2000s, has meant that countless athletes have tried their hand at perhaps the most difficult sport there is.

The rise in popularity has meant in turn that top athletes from other sports have also dabbled in MMA, although it must be said – the majority of them have had very little success, usually due to the fact that their athletic primes came in their own sport, not in the ring or cage.

The following five men stepped out of their own sport into the MMA arena and while they failed for the most part, you’ve got to commend their efforts in a way.

#1 Jose Canseco

In the 80s and 90s, few baseball players had as much success as Jose Canseco. Named as the Major League’s Most Valuable Player in 1988, Canseco won countless other awards during his time in the sport and even saw the street outside his old high school named after him due to his success.

As of 2017, he still remains 35th in the MLB’s all-time list for home runs with 462. Unfortunately, his baseball career also ended in disgrace after he confessed to having used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career.

Canseco’s tell-all book in 2005 helped to expose a much bigger steroid scandal in baseball than anyone could’ve imagined, but by 2009 his name hadn’t been in the press for quite some time. Which was precisely why it was one of the weirdest moments in MMA history when his participation in Japanese promotion DREAM’s Super-Hulk tournament was announced out of the blue.

An eight-man, openweight tournament, the Super-Hulk was basically as odd as it gets – a pair of freakish giants in Hong Man Choi and Jan Njorte, three legit fighters (Mark Hunt, Gegard Mousasi and Rameau Sokoudjou), Japan’s king of freakshow bouts Ikuhisa Minowa, then former megastar Bob Sapp, and Canseco. The former baseball star was faced with Choi in the opening round.

Canseco claimed to hold black belts in karate and tae-kwon-do, as well as skills in Muay Thai, but if that were the case, they certainly weren’t on show in Japan. Turning up wearing black sweatpants and wielding his baseball bat – which he wasn’t allowed to use – he flailed around for a few minutes before apparently blowing out his knee, allowing the almost-as-unskilled Choi to pound him out for a TKO.

It was one of the worst performances in an MMA ring, ever. And naturally, he never fought again.

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