I know, I know, most of us are way too old to be professional wrestling fans. However, you can't deny that their are significant parallels between the entertainers involved in pro wrestling and the UFC as a whole. Sure there's one big glaring difference in that one's real and one's fake; but the personalities that keep the combat sport so entertaining have similar stylings as past and present pro wrestlers. Part one will focus on the UFC champions and their pro wrestling equivalents.
Brock Lesnar (Big Van Vader)
I know what most of you are saying. How can a former professional wrestler turned MMA fighter NOT be compared to his pro wrestling persona. Well, if you watched the WWE when Brock Lesnar was prevelant and you watch Brock Lesnar's antics now in the UFC, you'd probably come to the same conclusion as I have. He's a much better 'heel' in real life than he was in pro wrestling. His confidence, his (at times) lack of respect for his opponents, and his size make him a character in himself. I chose Big Van Vader simply because of how they burst on the scene. While Vader had a murky beginning with World Championship Wrestling, once the powers that be realized what they had, well they pushed him to the top. During his run as a main stay in WCW, he struck fear into anyone and everyone he would face. He was for a period of time, an unstoppable monster that people wanted to see defeated but knew what the outcome would eventually be. Couple that with his unlikely agility for being a 6' 5", 400+ behemoth of a man. The fact that he could not only climb the ropes for such a hefty man but perform top rope moves that some of us 'fit' guys would have trouble doing was a testament to his athelticism. On his arrival, he was quickly pushed into big time matches with guys like Sting and Ron Simmons and quickly took the belt from the aforementioned Sting. Sound familiar? Brock Lesnar, in the same vein, was quickly thrown to the wolves in the UFC, taking on former champion Frank Mir, Heath Herring, and then champion Randy Couture in his first three fights with the promotion. In those fights, he bulldozed his opponents (although falling victim to Frank Mir's jiu jitsu) and made their faces look more like something you'd see in a grocery meat department rather than on a magazine cover. Now if only we could see Brock land a powerbomb in the middle of the octagon this comparison would be complete.
The rest after the jump
Lyoto Machida (Rey Misterio)
This was probably the hardest one to figure out and I am sure most people are scratching their heads on this one. So let me explain. The reason I compared Lyoto Machida to Rey Misterio is simply because both brought a new, innovative style (although Rey Misterio's style is well known in Mexico, it was new when he brought it over to ECW, WCW, and WWE) to their 'sport'. They also rose up the rankings by not exactly being the best trash talker or giving the best interview but simply by what they could do in the ring/cage. I know this will sound absurd in many ways but both have a counter-based style. With Misterio, most of his offense comes from countering moves done by his opponents, mostly due to his size. Of course with Machida, his karate base and elusive style has him always looking for holes and ways to counterstrike his opponent rather than simply blitzkrieging them. Similarly, it took them quite some time to get to be a champion (going with Rey's WWE run not WCW). Now if Machida could pull off a 6-1-9 on Shogun to retain the title, I would be a happy man.
Anderson Silva (The Rock)
Cocky? Check. Great entertainer? Check. Flawed? Check. One of the Best of All Time? Check. While Anderson may not be as charismatic as The Rock, I made this comparison based on the fact that both blur the line between what is it to be a 'good' and 'bad' guy, but even when they're so overly arrogant that you should want to see them get their face pummeled you seem to always cheer for them. Hell, much like The Rock did during his day, you can see videos of Anderson Silva mocking his fellow MMA fighters. Even in the cage, Anderson Silva exudes the same type of charisma the Rock once did, going as far as offering to help his opponents to their feet after brutally knocking them senseless to the ground, obviously a gesture not meant to make his opponents feel good but rather to further kill their confidence. While the Rock had his arch-nemesis Stone Cold Steve Austin, it seems we may never find Anderson Silva's Stone Cold in the UFC.
Georges St. Pierre (Bret Hart)
The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be? Maybe not, but GSP and Bret Hart share a ton of similarities and not just because they're both Canadian. Both take their craft very seriously. Both are straight to the point, say what you feel type of guys. Both carry their status and their place in the business with pride. Plus both are very technical in their approach, sure Bret's 'technique' was based on pre-planned moves and a pre-planned outcome but he still had a methodical approach to his matches, much like GSP in his fights. Neither can really talk a good game, though neither really have to as they let all they do in the ring/cage do the talking for them. Maybe, if we're lucky, GSP will break out the sharpshooter on Dan Hardy to commemorate Bret's return to wrestling..lol.
BJ Penn (Ric Flair)
I'm talking about Ric Flair in the early WCW days, not 'Too Old to Be Wrestling' Ric Flair. Ric Flair is by far the greatest overall pro wrestler of all time. He had charisma. He had the in-ring ability. He knew how to sell a match. Win or lose, you were entertained from start to finish. Sound familiar? BJ Penn is no doubt the Ric Flair of the UFC's lightweight division. He knows exactly how to sell a fight, even if he knows just as much as we know that it's not going to be competitive. He's dangerous wherever the fight goes, much like Ric Flair in his heyday, he could beat you on the mat or get dirty and knock you out (see his matches with Terry Funk). Whether Flair was going against guys his own size or guys twice his size, he found a way to win and believed there was no way he could lose. BJ has fought in numerous weight divisions and while he may not have been successful in all, he was competitive in all. Now, if after BJ chokes out Frankie Edgar he'd give us a patented 'Wooooo' this comparison would be complete.
Stay tuned for part 2, where I'll compare fighters like Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz, Rampage Jackson, Rashad Evans, Mirko Cro Cop and Wanderlei Silva with their pro wrestling equivalents.