There have been many professional athletes that have made the crossover to the lights, camera and action of Hollywood. Every major sport has seen their fill of actors; from football and basketball to baseball and boxing — many have succeeded in making the transition.
Shaquille O’Neal, Brett Favre, Rocky Marciano, Ray Allen, O.J. Simpson, Alex Karras, Michael Strahan and Bob Ueker are just a smidgeon of those that have stepped in front of the camera.
With mixed martial arts on the rise, there has been an influx of fighters trying their hand at acting and finding success, but why? Hint: think “father of MMA”, the term coined by UFC President Dana White.
Does the name Bruce Lee ring a bell? He was not only an accomplished martial artist with his Jeet Kune Do, but a foreign movie star that was a huge success in the United States and internationally. One of his directors reported that he was so fast that he was asked to slow down so that the camera would be able to see his movements.
There have been other martial artists who have made their living memorizing lines, such as Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan and Jet Li — but it’s only recently that MMA fighters have joined the fray.
Here are 5 notable stars that have found success:
5. Gina Carano | She has it all — good fighter, good looks and great opportunities, as she has landed herself in feature films like Haywire, Fast and Furious 6 and a new female version of The Expendables. She only has one loss on her MMA recored and hasn’t fought since 2009, but why would she when she can get paid and not get hit in the face?
4. Rampage Jackson | Say what you want about the embattled Bellator fighter, but Rampage was in the blockbuster film The A-Team playing Mr. T, which is not an easy task. He also signed with TNA wrestling and Rampage gets to practice his semi-improv skills on the show.
3. Randy Couture | The UFC Hall-of-Famer has been busy since his retirement, appearing in both Expendables films and set to be in the upcoming third installment of Sylvester Stallone’s franchise. He also starred in The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior, as he looks to make his niche in the action market.
2. Ronda Rousey | Rousey has catapulted into the limelight as UFC women’s bantamweight champion and is now dabbling on the big screen. Her film debut is on its way in The Expendables 3 and she’s set to appear in Fast and Furious 7 and Entourage. These are three studio films that will draw in hundreds of millions of dollars, which will surely set Rousey up for life after the Octagon.
1. Georges St. Pierre | Okay, so the semi-retired, former UFC welterweight champ was in three B-movies. And when I say B, I mean D, if that’s possible, and he’s no Matt Damon when it comes to his acting. However, in his most recent role, as Batroc in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I had to say I was pleasantly surprised. GSP did a pretty good job as a villain, and seemed to be in character and not overacting. I was entertained, amused and thought he could have a future in acting if the roles were tailored for him.
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