With the rise of MMA, and the evergrowing popularity of the UFC, we’ve seen various individuals try to capitalize on that success and get into the sport themselves. Whether it is by fighting inside the cage, forming their own company, or doing commentary, we’ve seen loads of celebrities attempt to get into the MMA business.
While there are some of the most notable examples such as CM Punk’s failed UFC tenure, or Snoop Dogg’s commentary run on Dana White’s Contender Series, there are many celebrities’ attempts at getting into the MMA business that has fallen to the wayside in history.
Herschel Walker was a multiple-time All-Pro across his 14-year pro football career. However years after he retired from the football field, he decided to step into the cage despite being in his mid-40s.
Walker has always been an athletic freak, and he picked up MMA very quickly as a result. He began training in 2007 and signed with Strikeforce in the fall of 2009. Walker all in all went 2-0 inside of the Strikeforce cage, winning both bouts via knockout prior to calling it quits after his first-round knockout win over Scott Carson in 2011.
James Toney’s boxing career is nothing short of prolific. A champion across three different weight classes, Toney quite literally trash-talked his way into getting a UFC contract in 2010 after harassing Dana White and other fighters saying that their striking was terrible and couldn’t hang with him.
Toney got his wish, he got his UFC contract and also a fight with UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture at UFC 118. Predictably, Toney got taken down and mauled in the easiest fight of Couture’s career, as he submitted him in the first round. Toney never stepped in the cage again.
Following Bobby Lashley‘s WWE release in 2007, he decided to turn his attention away from the squared circle and instead towards the cage. Lashley started his career off 4-0, before getting signed to Strikeforce. He quickly defeated former UFC fighter Wes Sims before being released following a loss to Chad Griggs in late 2010.
Lashley’s career from there never really reached the heights that seemed possible when he first announced his transition, but he did finish out a respectable 15-2. Lashley spent the latter half of his career in Bellator, going 5-0 before departing to WWE in 2018.
Multi-time Grammy-nominated rapper Wiz Khalifa has been an MMA fan in years, having actually started training jiu-jitsu and muay-thai in 2018. So with that in mind, it’s no surprise that he’s taken interest in getting into the business side of the octagon.
In 2021, Khalifa invested in the upstart PFL promotion. Now one of the top owners of the company, Khalifa has appeared at many of the PFL events and press conferences to help boost the company since buying in April of this year.
Dave Bautista is mainly known for his stunning transition from WWE star to one of the stars of the Marvel universe. However, what is forgotten is that following his original departure from WWE in 2010 he actually first attempted a move into MMA.
Bautista was seemingly going to sign with Strikeforce, however, once they were bought out by the UFC negotiations fell through. Once negotiations fell through there, he signed with CES MMA in 2012. Batista had one bout for the promotion, defeating journeyman Vince Lucero via knockout in the first round.
Jose Canseco was a multiple-time All-Star during his 16-year baseball career. Seemingly for no reason, eight years after his retirement, he signed with the Japan-based DREAM promotion to fight in their “Super-Hulk” tournament.
Despite Canseco having very few real requirements to fight, he was matched up with 7’2′ kickboxer Choi Hong-man in the first round of the tournament. Predictably, Canseco lost via first-round knockout.
11 year NFL veteran Johnnie Morton after hanging up his cleats decided to put on the gloves for K-1 MMA in 2007. Normally a kickboxing company, Morton signed to fight on their MMA show set for June 2007 in a rare move to the US for the normally Japanese company.
Morton didn’t have much more than a few months of MMA training, as he was slated to fight Bernard Ackah at the event. It was a bad night for Morton, as he was knocked out cold and then tested for elevated testosterone levels following the fight.
Rapper Snoop Dogg has seemingly done everything in life there is to do, so it’s no surprise that he’s done some commentary for MMA. Dogg was actually brought on as alternate commentary for the first season of the Dana White Contender Series, and despite it seemingly going well, he was not brought back for future seasons.
Nowadays, Dogg actually does commentary for the upstart Boxing commentary Triller Fight Club.
CM Punk‘s failed UFC run was one of the more interesting UFC experiments over the years. Punk was notably a former professional wrestler and WWE champion prior to signing with the UFC in 2014, despite having little actually MMA experience.
Punk lost his first bout to young prospect Mickey Gall at UFC 203 via submission and then lost his second bout to Mike Jackson at UFC 225 via lopsided decision in his hometown of Chicago. While the Jackson loss was later overturned after a failed drug test on Jackson’s end, he officially retired from MMA in 2021 after returning to pro-wrestling with his signing to AEW.
9 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Are UFC Fans
The UFC is the pinnacle of the MMA world, and many celebrities you wouldn’t expect are fans of the fighting promotion.
About The Author
(34 Articles Published)
20 year old with a passion for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Have written about MMA since 2017, works have appeared on Fox Sports, Cage Pages, Fansided, as well as CagesidePress. One half of the ‘Courtside Soundoff’ Podcast on Spotify, Podbean, YouTube, and iTunes. Can follow all works @JoshEvanoff on Twitter.
Original posted at www.thesportster.com