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Wrestlers who could have made a go of MMA in their prime?


David
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Wasn't sure where to put this, but opted for the wrestling section of the board. If staff feel it's better suited to MMA feel free to move it. I just figured there'd be more posters here who'd know about the subject matter.

Anyway, it's interesting to think which wrestlers from over the years may have gone down the route of MMA/UFC rather than pro wrestling if they'd had the chance. We've seen the success of Brock Lesnar, as well as the relative success of the likes of Bobby Lashley (15-2 record) and the emergence of Jack Swagger recently.

My first pick for this would have to be Scott Steiner. He'd have been 31 years old when UFC 1 took place and had just started his first run with the WWF, so the chances of him ever making the jump were slim to none considering the difference in money being offered by both, but his credentials certainly suggest that if he'd been around for that 1997-1998 period when the likes of Mark Coleman, Dan Severn, Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz were doing well he could have been a force.

Even today, someone beginning an MMA career with a track record that includes 3-time big 10 runner-up and NCAA Div 1 All-American would be on track to do reasonably well in the sport. 

Another interesting name would have been Rick Rude. I doubt he'd have made as big an impact as Steiner, but he'd certainly have been an interesting guy to have on the scene during the early days when the likes of Tank Abbott were popular. His history as a tough guy and arm wrestler would have been a perfect match for the type of characters in the UFC at the time, not to mention a battle of the moustaches between him and Don Frye would have been pretty cool!

I'm sure there are others, but those two spring to mind for me.

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I know he has finally started his MMA career last week but Jack Swagger in his 20's could have made a huge impact, I can remember somebody saying (It might have been Sonnen?) That Brock isn't even the best fighter in WWE and when questioned who was he said Swagger. (I know Sonnen would have a hard on for an All American but still). It feels like Swagger is getting into the game to late to make a serious impact now.

 

Kurt Angle's name will pop up so much in this thread but honestly he was offered several times, he didn't want to know.

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you have to look at the guys who had legitimate combat backgrounds, there's a general list of wrestling tough guys but put them into an MMA setting against skilled fighters and they'd lilkely have got smashed with little trouble, this is the category id have put Haku in. Saying that, he may have done alright in the primitive days of the UFC.

You have to put all the amateur wrestlers in there though, wrestling is by far the best base for a successful MMA fighter, right now most of the UFC champions are from amateur backgrounds so you can put in anyone who came from that world, The Steiners being a great example for them early days, prime Dr. Death as well. Bad News Allen with his Judo background would probably have made it work too.

Modern day you cant look past Dolph Ziggler, Shelton Benjamin and obviously Kurt Angle.

Edited by Egg Shen
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i'm not sure about any of these bar fighter guys.Maybe, as David says, there was a point in MMA history when it wasn't as sophisticated and a clown like Tank Abbott could bumble his way through fights. I don't think they'd have been really successful though. I think Scotty Steiner is the best shout for that. Most of that Minnesota crew who had legit wrestling background too.

Guys like haku and Rude are overblown. They have a rep which is well earned for knocking out mouthy drunks but I'm not convinced that translates to a real sport. It's one thing to throw and take a punch but we've seen hundreds of guys who can do that get outwrestled or submitted because of the complexities or MMA - which is why it's such a fascinating sport.

Anyway, Inoki is my answer. That turtle move would cause chaos.

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7 minutes ago, tiger_rick said:

Maybe, as David says, there was a point in MMA history when it wasn't as sophisticated and a clown like Tank Abbott could bumble his way through fights. I don't think they'd have been really successful though.

There absolutely was a point when the UFC was a place guys like Tank could be successful. He came in during 1995 and won his first two fights by stoppage, one of them within 18 seconds. He went 8-7 initially, with the wheels only really starting to come off when he decided to come back in 2003 after a five year layoff. The game had changed significantly by then.

That early era from the first UFC, running around four or five years, would have been the era that the likes of Rick Rude and Haku would have been interesting to see compete. There were a lot of gimmicks then that added to the intrigue, such as a guy who was a sumo wrestler, another guy who was a religious lunatic covered in tattoos and who carried a cross on his back to the cage.

14 minutes ago, tiger_rick said:

ÔĽŅI think Scotty Steiner is the best shout for that. Most of that Minnesota crew who had legit wrestling background too.

Steiner could have been a success in the 2nd round of UFC's evolution, which saw wrestlers with very basic standup come in and do a job, like Mark Coleman and Mark Kerr, followed by the likes of Randy Couture.

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55 minutes ago, Porkchopcash said:

I remember ready in Powerslam around that time that WCW were trying to do something with UFC and UFC wanted Haku but he declined and WCW wanted to send I think Craig Pitman? The chap with the army background instead. Not sure what came of it.

Fuck all came of it I think. Although Pittman went on to fight MMA elsewhere, with a record of 2-2.

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Haku has a sumo background, doesn't he? And while sumo wrestlers didn't exactly fare well in the early days of UFC, it does mean he wasn't entirely without a legitimate background.

Brawl for All disappointments aside, Steve Williams is my shout. Multiple time All-American as an amateur wrestler, and Dan Severn puts him over huge in his book as being a guy who basically achieved that as a hobby on the side, with his main focus being on American football. 

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30 minutes ago, BomberPat said:

Haku has a sumo background, doesn't he? And while sumo wrestlers didn't exactly fare well in the early days of UFC, it does mean he wasn't entirely without a legitimate background.

He also played rugger at college. Adding not only further legitimacy to his likely "hard bastard" status but also suggesting he can hold his drink. He definitely wins when the New Japan lads play "my dad could beat up your dad." Or indeed "eat your dad."

Apropos, my mother is a second dan black belt in karate so when that argument came up at my school, I replied "Yeah? My MUM could beat up your dad."

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Tamon Honda? Wasn't massively successful at the Olympics, but medalled in the Asian and World championships.

Have to concur that Steve Williams sounds like the best bet of those mentioned so far.

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