The worlds of mixed martial arts and professional wrestling have always had close links, drawing rosters from all walks of life. So it may not come as a surprise to see acclaimed athletes cross over from one profession to the other in a natural transition.
Some of the biggest female MMA stars and most recognizable names on UFC lines have crossed over from their contract with the UFC promotion to pursue a career in professional wrestling, and vice versa, to different degrees of success.
Very few MMA fighters have been able to break out in major roles when moving to pro wrestling.
If you want to know more about some of these individuals, here are a few female UFC fighters who have crossed over to pro wrestling in recent years.
Ronda Rousey is arguably the most famous name on this list.
Once UFC acquired an MMA promotion called Strikeforce which housed elite talent and future UFC champions including former judo Olympian Ronda Rousey.
Rousey was the champion of her division in Strikeforce but due to the acquisition, she was quickly promoted to UFC women’s bantamweight champion. Along with Liz Carmouche, she made history as one of the first women to ever fight inside the Octagon.
Rousey showed dominance in every fight during her time with the UFC and defended her championship title six times. As a result of her impressive fighting style, Rousey is considered to be a pioneer in women’s MMA. Rousey chose to end her fighting career and retire from MMA after her eighth fight in the Octagon.
The pro fighter signed with the WWE in 2017 and made history by featuring in the first women’s main event at Wrestlemania. Though she hasn’t been with the company all that long, Rousey has made quite the name for herself in the world of sporting entertainment.
Ronda Rousey is one of the most successful fighters of all time and a huge name in combat sports.
Baszler is one of the most recent MMA fighters to transition to WWE. The sheer skill and fighting talent doesn’t get better than Baszler who was trained under the guidance of Billy Robinson. As a result of her impressive training, Baszler was the first woman to earn the title of certified catch wrestler in the US.
She is also the longest-combined reigning NXT Women’s Champion, as well as a two-time Women’s Tag Team Champion in the WWE with fellow fighter Nia Jax.
Baszler had her first ever professional MMA fight in 2003 and gained subsequent recognition in the following years as a pioneer of women’s fighting. This was nearly a full decade before the UFC brought female fighters to its roster and introduced the bantamweight division in 2013, which saw Baszler quickly sign up.
Baszler, also dubbed “The Queen of Spades” by MMA star and all-around athlete Josh Barnett, became one of the most respected female fighters in the world in quite a short amount of time.
In 2015, after being mentored by Barnett, she left the UFC and began her professional wrestling career that very same year — and was signed by WWE in 2017 to perform on the NXT brand.
She now performs on the SmackDown brand within the promotion.
Yet another name to remember, Paige VanZant is one of the breakout stars who crossed from the UFC to pro wrestling.
Paige Vanzant was added to the UFC roster in November 2014 in the strawweight division, making her debut against Kailin Curran. VanZant found success in the Octagon and went on to beat Alex Chambers and Felice Herrig, with her four-fight winning streak broken by Rose Namjuans in late 2015.
andShe had a decent UFC career with an MMA record of eight wins and five losses. She fought in two classes: Strawweight and Flyweight, and was also the youngest woman to compete in the UFC when she debuted in 2012. Here, she received a Fight of the Night bonus for her impressive performance.
VanZant went on to show her fighting prowess by defeating two opponents out of five. In Summer 2020, VanZant parted ways with the UFC after losing at UFC 251. It wasn’t until September 2021 that the athlete began to make appearances on the relatively new pro wrestling show, All Elite Wrestling (AEW).
After months of regular appearances, she officially signed with the AEW company and has since made her debut with the promotion.
Some of the best female UFC fighters have packed up their skills and transferred them to the competitive world of professional wrestling. These women are a testament to the fact that sometimes a complete skill set can be suited to more than one industry at a time.
With promotions like AEW and WWE dominating the wrestling world, there is plenty of new and exciting talent constantly filtering through them. The women in these articles are no exception, going on to achieve incredible things and find success in their pro wrestling journey.
It’s safe to assume that many more female UFC fighters will turn their attention to finding success in pro wrestling.
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