5 UFC Champions Who Left the Octagon and Became Movie Stars
The Ultimate Fighting Championship, aka UFC, is the dominant mixed martial arts league in the United States. From judo to wrestling to jujitsu, the fighters brawl in various weight classes in pursuit of the champion’s belt.
It is difficult to ignore some of the charismatic and likable personalities represented in the sport, and inside some of the most intense competitors lies a hidden talent for entertaining audiences. With that in mind, here’s a list of five UFC fighters who have leveraged their popularity to become movie stars.
1. Georges St-Pierre
Canadian mixed martial artist Georges St-Pierre fought and won belts in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions. The future UFC hall-of-famer is known for his robust training regimen and relentless focus. St-Pierre took his skills to the big screen, most notably in Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
In the film, his character, Batroc, went toe-to-toe with The First Avenger — and he gave ‘ol Cap a run for his money. According to Full Circle Cinema, rumor has it that St-Pierre will return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
2. Randy Couture
Randy Couture was a college wrestler and Olympic games alternate who honed his skills in various MMA disciplines. As both a light heavyweight and heavyweight contender, he won and defended the belt multiple times and earned the respect of his colleagues and fans. But the UFC hall-of-famer has also packed a punch in the sphere of entertainment.
Couture began his on-screen career in 2002 as a stunt performer before switching to starring roles. Over nearly 20 years, he has racked up three dozen acting credits with roles in high-profile blockbusters such as The Expendables trilogy. What’s more, the fighter-turned-movie star has at least five forthcoming projects.
3. Ronda Rousey
Before her current role in the WWE, Ronda Rousey was a UFC superstar as the league’s first woman champion. She won the bantamweight title and defended it a whopping six times. For her extraordinary performances in the octagon, the UFC vet was inducted into the hall of fame.
Beyond the WWE, Rousey has appeared in numerous film and television roles. Movie buffs may recognize her from such films as Furious 7, Charlie’s Angels, and of course, The Expendables 3, in which she appeared alongside fellow fighter Couture.
4. Chuck Liddell
UFC Hall of Fame honoree, Chuck Liddell, won and defended the light heavyweight title multiple times. The mixed martial arts pro is trained in kickboxing, grappling, wrestling, and other fighting styles, making him a prime casting choice for action roles.
Fans may remember Liddell from films including, Kick-Ass 2, War Pigs, and Silencer. He also appeared alongside Couture in D-Day: Battle of Omaha Beach. Liddell’s most recent role in Cagefighter: Worlds Collide beautifully showcases his passion for acting and hand-to-hand combat training.
5. Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson
Known for a personality that is almost as explosive as his body slams, former light heavyweight champion, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, turned heads when he knocked out UFC legend, Liddell. Jackson enjoyed a winning fight record before pivoting to an acting career.
Fans may recognize Jackson from the 2010 reboot of The A-Team, among other big-screen and small-screen projects. With over two dozen credits to his name, the ex-champ has at least four projects on the horizon.