Batista, Lashley, Lesnar, Punk: 5 WWE stars who tested the waters in MMA

While WWE wrestlers don’t get the respect they deserve, it’d be hard to find many who are as tough as those who compete in mixed martial arts.

That’s quite the sweeping generalisation to make but in an overall sense, it’s true. The difference between pro wrestling and MMA is pretty clear and even though there are some similarities, not everyone is going to find the kind of success they desire purely from heart and grit alone.

So today, we thought it’d be interesting to take a look at five WWE superstars that decided to test the waters in mixed martial arts.

Some went higher than they ever thought possible, but others soon came across the harsh reality of how brutal this sport really is.

NEW YORK – MARCH 28: Wrestler Bobby Lashley attends the press conference held by Battle of the Billionaires to announce details of Wrestlemania 23 at Trump Tower on March 28, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

Bobby Lashley

Bobby Lashley was an intimidating presence from the moment he stepped foot into a WWE ring and, looking back, it’s kind of odd that nobody put it together that this guy could be something in MMA.

In totality, across 17 pro mixed martial arts bouts, he actually accumulated a record of 15-2 – with seven of those appearances coming in Bellator and Strikeforce.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 08: Mixed martial artist Brock Lesnar poses on the scale during his weigh-in for UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena on July 8, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lesnar will meet Mark Hunt in a heavyweight bout on July 9 at T-Mobile Arena. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Brock Lesnar

The freak athleticism of Brock Lesnar was always apparent, even when he was an amateur wrestler in his college days. Then, he tore through WWE like a hot knife through butter, almost made it to the NFL, and eventually opted to head over to the UFC.

His 5-3 (1) record may not impress you, but this guy became the UFC heavyweight champion and beat Randy Couture, Frank Mir and Shane Carwin along the way.

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 21: Dave Bautista visit’s ‘The IMDb Show’ on February 21, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. This episode of ‘The IMDb Show’ airs on March 5, 2020. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)


Batista, better known to Guardians of the Galaxy fans as Dave Bautista or Drax, didn’t need to have an MMA fight to prove himself as a tough chap. Alas, he wanted to do it for himself and pursued a career in the sport – even coming close to signing for Strikeforce.

In the end his one and only fight was a TKO triumph over Vince Lucero, leaving his record at 1-0.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 04: Alberto Del Rio speaks onstage during Kate del Castillo’s announcement of her landmark deal with global MMA brand Combate Americas at LA River Studios on April 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Combate Americas)

Alberto Del Rio

After working as both a wrestler and an MMA fighter for a few years, Del Rio committed his time and energy to WWE with his record standing at 9-5. In that time he fought some absolute monsters including Mirko Cro Cop, but it never felt like he’d pick his combat sports career back up after his WWE days.

Then, in December 2019, he competed against Tito Ortiz in a strange Combate Americas fight that ended in a quick submission loss.

CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 09: CM Punk prepares to fight Mike Jackson in their welterweight bout during the UFC 225: Whittaker v Romero 2 event at the United Center on June 9, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Jackson won by unanimous decision. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

CM Punk

God bless CM Punk aka Phil Brooks for wanting to walk straight into the lion’s den of the UFC. It was never likely to end well for him but the former WWE champion still put his best foot forward and gave it everything he had, living out a dream we’ve all wanted to attain.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get him in the win column as he was comprehensively beaten by both Mickey Gall and Mike Jackson.

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