Conor McGregor’s 13-second demolition of José Aldo at the weekend thrust The Notorious One into the global mainstream to highlight the surging popularity of UFC.
Comparisons to Muhammad Ali have been made for a while, and now his Ali-like charisma has reached Hollywood.
Mark Wahlberg has already expressed a desire to bring McGregor into movies, while Fast & Furious’ chrome-domed chief Vin Diesel has gone one better to enlist McGregor in XXX 3.
McGregor isn’t the first MMA brawler to make a bid for screen stardom – and some of his predecessors are well on the way to global success. Here are five other UFC champs who’ve tried their hand at acting.
A former light heavyweight champ, Quinton Jackson has had a rough ride with the UFC, accusing them of mistreatment. He retired in 2009 as his movie career was about to take off. You’ll recognise him from The A-Team remake, in which his spot-on BA Baracus was one of its few bright sparks. But he returned to UFC in 2010 and, while he has continued acting, it’s mainly been in dubiously-titled films such as Bob Thunder: Internet Assassin and Vigilante Diaries.
GSP picked up three welterweight championships before going into semi-retirement as his eye drifted towards movies. Cheapo action schlock like Hell’s Chain and Death Warrior were never going to be breaking box office records, but a role in Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier put him back on the acting map. Next up, he’ll face down WWE’s Dave Bautista in the remake of Kickboxer.
“Rowdy” Ronda is one of the most decorated fighters in UFC history. She’s also turning into a formidable kick-ass action movie heroine thanks to roles in Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables 3 and the juggernaut that is Fast & Furious 7. Let’s swiftly ignore the Enoturage movie and instead look forward to Rousey taking on a the Patrick Swayze role in a rebooted Road House.
A swift and brutal Muay Thai fighter, Carano was spotted by Steven Soderbergh and thrown into the lead role in action-thriller Haywire. A Fast & Furious role followed and, like St-Pierre, Carano will feature in Kickboxer. She’s also got comic book blockbuster Deadpool on the horizon, putting her on the A-list of MMA fighters-turned-actors. A return to the ring to fight Ronda Rousey was discussed in 2014, but sadly never never came to pass.
A veteran of all three Expendables films, Couture has consistently notched up roles in film and TV since packing in UFC for good in 2011. After three heavyweight and two light heavyweight championships, Couture pretty much had nothing else to achieve in the world of MMA. Next up? A role in comedy Good Kids with Ashley Judd.