There are countless people that practice martial arts, but only a select few can make it amongst the ranks of the UFC. Occasionally, martial artists end up becoming famous in one way or another. Their skills may have led them into the film industry to star in various action flicks, but their skills may have spoken for themselves in competition.
Regardless of how a practicing martial artist rose to fame, many people wonder what would happen if some of the most famous martial artists got themselves a UFC fight. The world has seen what can happen when a professional wrestler gets in the ring, for better or worse, but a high-profile bout with a famous practitioner could help prop up a UFC card. With that said, not everyone who practices martial arts would be great in the Octagon.
10 Would – Donnie Yen
Some may not know that Donnie Yen is actually credited for bringing MMA into popular Asian culture. He’s trained in countless styles of martial arts outside of striking, making him dangerous at any level. It’s hard to pinpoint how many styles exactly, but the number does seem to be at least 15, with multiple high-level belts.
Donnie Yen is arguably one of the most impressive martial artists to never step into the octagon with the sheer amount of accomplishments he has. If he made his way over to the UFC, he might even have someone like Conor McGregor thinking twice about opening his mouth.
9 Wouldn’t – Jason Statham
To his credit, Jason Statham could probably beat up most people, just maybe not dedicated UFC fighters. He’s trained in karate, Wing Chun, and kickboxing, which could make him an excellent striker. His issue would come when any competent grappler got their hands on him.
Being able to clash with the best of them on the feet doesn’t mean much if his opponent’s game plan is to get him to the floor. If he could channel his action movie persona for a fight, he’d still be someone an opponent may be concerned about.
8 Would – Bruce Lee
Some people might think that Bruce Lee was, “too Hollywood” to be in a real fight, but his legacy in martial arts is rooted in actual unsanctioned fighting. Many know his mastery of countless fighting styles, but many don’t know that he participated in bare-knuckle rooftop fighting.
If Lee were here today, he’d likely be able to pull out some incredible victories via strikes, and his background with legitimate fighting with what likely had few (if any) rules proves that he has the mindset to truly fight another man to the end.
7 Wouldn’t – Jackie Chan
If Jackie Chan could fight half as creatively in the octagon as he does in most of his movies, it would be hard to see any opponent landing a hit. He excels in multiple forms of martial arts and even has a black belt in Hapkido.
The only thing that placed Jackie Chan in the “wouldn’t” camp is that most of his training centers around striking. While he is undoubtedly an impressive striker, one is left to wonder how well he would fare against someone with excellent takedowns and ground-game with only Hapkido to fall back on.
6 Would – Chuck Norris
Everyone knows that Chuck Norris is often regarded as one of the greatest North American martial artists of all time, but many may not know that he actually has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
There may be disputes over just how impressive his record really is, but regardless, Chuck Norris still beat plenty of high-level opponents in his prime. His ability to pick his moment to strike mixed with knowledge of ground-game could give him enough of an edge to take on some of the strongest fighters of any division.
5 Wouldn’t – Ip Man (Also Known As Yip Man)
Absolutely anyone who loves martial arts should have some level of respect for someone like Ip Man, but his mastery of Wing Chun likely wouldn’t save him in the octagon. Many people know that many martial arts that master single art forms can be taken advantage of in an MMA fight.
There was actually a surge in videos of ancient martial arts masters taking on what could be considered less than high-quality MMA fighters in bouts that saw the masters being destroyed. A strong striker or a violent takedown artist would likely be tough for Ip Man to deal with.
4 Would – Wesley Snipes
A lot of people may not be aware of Wesley Snipes’ numerous martial arts accomplishments. He’s a black belt in two different disciplines and has further trained in kickboxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, making him a dangerous man to challenge to a fight.
There was actually talk for quite some time about a potential fight between Wesley Snipes and Joe Rogan, but it never materialized for a variety of reasons. In his prime, Snipes likely could have done quite well in his chosen weight class if he changed his primary focus to fighting.
3 Wouldn’t – Jet Li
Most people have likely heard of Jet Li at some point thanks to his wide array of incredible action movies. While he certainly would be a tough opponent, mastery of Wushu at a young age likely wouldn’t be enough to stand in the octagon.
One only needs to read about Jet Li’s profound and outright beautiful thoughts on martial arts to come to the conclusion that he likely wouldn’t be interested in legitimately hurting another person. A lack of will for inflicting violence on others is really the greatest thing that would hold him back from success in the UFC.
2 Would – Jean-Claude Van Damme
If Sylvester Stallone’s account of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s incident with Steven Seagal is to be believed, no one wants to mess with him. The man may have become a movie megastar, but he was a legitimate competitor in kickboxing.
The only loss on his dedicated 19-fight kickboxing record came via disqualification, making his striking abilities even more impressive. Moving further into semi-contact, he had 48 fights and only lost four. His additional skill in karate, Taekwondo, and Muay Thai would only aid in his ability.
1 Wouldn’t – Steven Seagal
Despite his strong background in Aikido, and even an endorsement from Lyoto Machida, Steven Seagal likely wouldn’t be beating any serious competitors in the octagon. One solid martial arts background has proven to not be nearly enough in modern MMA.
If his online measurements are to be believed, Seagal could realistically compete in either the middleweight or welterweight divisions of the UFC, something that would see him coming up against the likes of Israel Adesanya, Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington, and Robert Whittaker, fighters he’d likely have little chance against.
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