10 Successful MMA To Pro Wrestling Transitions
To the uninitiated public that doesn't understand professional wrestling, the "realness" of mixed martial arts may seem like a complete contrast to the fixed, pre-determined entertainment that goes on in the squared circle.
Under this thinking, the UFC and WWE are polar opposites that blend together about as well as oil and water.
However, in some parts of the world, like Japan and England, the two sports are seen as existing on a continuum rather than as completely distinct things (i.e. Japanese puroresu emphasizes the use of legit kicks and strikes, traditional British wrestling uses Catch-As-Catch-Can and both emphasize a legit sports presentation).
As of late, there appears to be a growing overlap between the two mediums in the States as well.
Current WWE stars like Daniel Bryan and Becky Lynch are far more likely to have real combat training than their 1980s and 90s counterparts, and several wrestlers from Bobby Lashley to CM Punk have tried their hand at not only training but full-blown professional MMA, albeit with mixed results.
UFC is also increasingly using a WWE style of entertainment presentation, as was clearly the case at the conclusion of UFC 226 during Brock Lesnar's appearance.
That's not all. Jessamin Duke and Marina Shafir, both MMA pals of UFC legends Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler, are currently signed with WWE developmental brand NXT.
Cain Velasquez was seen in 2018 at an NXT taping in Florida's Full Sail University and trained at the nearby WWE Performance Center.
UFC double champion Daniel Cormier has also revealed his interest in pursuing a WWE broadcasting career upon retiring from the octagon later this year.
All of these stars will find themselves in good company as there is now an established record of mixed-martial-artists making a seamless move over to professional wrestling and sports entertainment in order to prolong their careers past the relatively limited shelf life of a combat sports competitor.
These are 10 successful MMA to pro-wrestling transitions.
#10 Josh "The Goods" Woods (2-0)
Ring of Honor's Josh Woods has what ROH has called a robust amateur record, being a four-time All American, SEC and NCWA National Champion out of the University of Central Florida.
He also led the 2012 US MMA team and has run UFC camps for several different fighters on the side.
A former WWE developmental signee who spent time at the company's Performance Center in 2014-15, Woods began his professional wrestling career with a stint in NXT before moving on to win ROH's 2017 Top Prospect tournament.
He has been prominently featured on the Philadelphia-based promotion's weekly syndicated TV show over the last two years, and recently returned to the world of martial arts to compete in a one-off Brazilian Ju-Jitsu competition this past October.