Are fans attending to see sport or spectacle? The line between combat sports and pure entertainment has long been thin, and the question is as old as the fighting sports themselves. Professional wrestling answered with “spectacle” in the 1930s and saw its popularity wax, wane and wax again in the present day. Boxing answered “sport” and has experienced its own ups and downs over the years. Mixed martial arts has yet to truly decide, and elements of spectacle and sport still vie with one another for supremacy.
While that thin line between sport and spectacle might hurt mixed martial arts with stiff-necked pundits in the mainstream media and a certain segment of purist fans, the potential for pugilists to blossom into full-on entertainers is always available -- available, that is, for those with the talent and charisma necessary to succeed as an actor. There is no denying that acting seems like a better gig than MMA in terms of both compensation and the lack of life-altering injuries, but not every fighter is cut out for it.
The latest installment of the Sherdog Top 10 series focuses on those fighters who have had the most success in trying to cross over to the entertainment industry. From shoestring-budget B movies to blockbusters, MMA’s finest have appeared in them all, and these are the cream of Hollywood’s fighters turned actors:
Number 10 » He is one of the most accomplished fighters in the history of mixed martial arts. The longtime welterweight champion defended his title nine times, dominating two generations of 170-pound fighters from pillar to post with barely a challenge to his iron-fisted rule.