8 MMA fighters who have been in popular films
UFC is the biggest broadcaster of MMA, and it is not short of talent when it comes to fighters. The fighters are easily recognisable and most fight fans will be able to spot them a mile off. But to the outside world, unless these fighters are worldwide superstars like Connor McGregor or Ronda Rousey, UFC fighters aren’t recognised or noticed in movies or public.
The most positive thing in the fight industry for fighters is that it is ripe with opportunity. Whether its movies, brand deals, sponsorships, clothing lines or building their businesses, the fight industry can provide fighters with all sorts of opportunities to make their millions and the more W’s on their record, the more chances they get. When fighters get the opportunity to appear in films, although their appearance or role may be minimal, this will continue to help them build their brand and name.
These fighters cemented their name and legacy by going outside the octagon and branching out to the movie and film industry.
One of the greatest UFC fighters to ever step foot in the octagon and recently inducted Hall of Fame, George St-Pierre, made the leap to the film industry into one of the biggest movie franchises out there, the MCU.
Although a minor role, St-Pierre made an appearance in the second instalment of the Captain America trilogy. His appearance as Batroc the Leaper was instantly recognisable by UFC fight fanatics whether hardcore or casual fans. Ultimately, Batroc’s fate is unknown after him and his crew held a ship belonging to S.H.I.E.L.D hostage and he and Captain America had a hand to hand sequence where the UFC fighter inevitably lost and then nothing else was heard of the villain. This could potentially lead to GSP’s return to the big screen once again, as both general audiences and MMA fans alike are now aware of his character’s capabilities, along with the former Welterweight king’s MMA star power.
Bringing in Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson was the only way to replace the cool factor that Mr T once used to play B. A Baracus in the 1980’s version of the hit TV series, for the 2010 film reboot.
The reboot of the franchise was on par with its source material, which was originally 4 members of the special forces who set out to clear their names after being accused of crimes they didn’t commit. During the original show, Mr T solidified himself as a household name because of the quick quips and indecent behaviour of B.A Baracus, this allowed the character to become a global phenomenon due to the portrayal of Mr T’s character and his quick one liner’s.
When taking the role, Quinton was able to naturally step into Mr T’s shoes and give his spin on the character. Quinton’s quick wit and humour easily combined with the demeanour that many fans have come to know Baracus for, and the extreme fight sequences that come thick and fast in the film only compounded the demeanour and personality of Baracus. The ferocity of Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson in the octagon made it easier for him to portray his character in the film.
The personality portrayed on the media by Quinton only led to more and more fighters across all weight classes getting involved with the mainstream entertainment franchises.
The nickname of Liddell being ‘The Ice Man’ makes him sound like he should be in a superhero comic or film, and that’s what transpired in his appearance in the 2013 hit movie Kick-Ass 2. Chuck starred in the film playing himself and was to aid in the Kick-Ass villain Chris D’Amico’s schemes. In the film, Liddell also aims to train Chris D’Amico into MMA greatness, but when the session doesn’t go well, D’Amico opts against the training and hires muscle in the form of bodyguards instead.
In the movie, Liddell refers to MMA like a game of chess, so if you have all of the right moves you can perform and win the fight. This movie was filmed after Chuck Liddell’s first retirement and it showcased his ability and options inside and outside the octagon
Ronda Rousey was a former World champion UFC fighter before retiring and making the cross over to the WWE, but before then, she played roles in a range of different blockbuster movies, ranging from the Expendables 3 to appearances in the Fast and Furious franchise.
During these movie appearances, Rousey presented herself well which led to her presenting a one-off showing of Saturday Night Live and nailing down a position in the remake of the hit classic ‘Road House’ where she played the rough and ready bartender.
Bob ‘The Beast’ Sapp isn’t a massively well-known face in the MMA community but maybe more recognised for his role in the Adam Sandler comedy The Longest Yard. In the film, Sapp plays a uniquely weird and childish prisoner who is the key to Sandler’s Football team, during which, there are many scenes where Sapp can be seen inflicting harm on the other players including the iconic scene where he tackles a guard and goes straight through him.
Sapp is a former American wrestler and also a Football player and has a combined fight record of 22-35-1. Sapp’s role in The Longest Yard led to him being recognised as a natural actor and comedian and he started to be chosen for roles in other prison-based movies including ‘Big Stan’ and ‘Blood and Bone’.
Michael Bisping is a well-known face in the UFC which is probably due to the fact he is a former Middleweight champion of the world and the first-ever English UFC Champion. But, Bisping won the Middleweight title on just 2 weeks-notice after replacing the injured Chris Brook in the bout. During the 2 weeks of training, Bisping was also in filming for the film ‘Triple X: Return of Xander Cage’.
In the film, Bisping played the role of Hawk, and although the appearance was minimal and not to memorable, it has led to him receiving many roles in films including ‘Den of Thieves’, ‘Triple Threat’ and ‘Big Lenny’, and he has now portrayed his skills outside of the octagon after starting his podcast and staring in more films.
Thought to be the face of the women’s divisions in the UFC for quite some time during her tenure, Gina Carano was the first relatively well-known female fighter and was popular amongst MMA fanatics across the globe. This led to Carano being allowed to headline her own budget movie alongside A list celebrities in the film ‘Haywire’. Carano played the lead character who was forced to go on the run by her employers after being targeted for assassination.
After this film, Carano became a superstar in the movie industry and has gone onto feature in Blockbuster movies such as ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Fast and Furious 6’ and is currently starring in the Disney+ series ‘The Mandalorian’ which is a spin-off from the Star Wars franchise.
A pioneer in the MMA world, Randy Couture made waves during his time in the octagon and was one of the first fighters to simultaneously hold 2 titles in 2 different weight divisions, and this was just the start as Randy then went on to make multiple appearances in a big-budget film series known as ‘The Expendables’.
The Expendables film series wasn’t the biggest of successes with the films being labelled as “over the top action movies”, but this didn’t stop Randy filming with massive names such as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Randy Couture played the team’s demolition expert and was often seen having hilarious interactions with members of the Expendables throughout the films and is now globally recognised as an action movie star.
If the stories of these MMA fighters turned movie stars have inspired you to get into the combat sports world, why not check out our club directory to find a combat sports club near you.