The Most Successful MMA Fighters-Turned-Movie Actors

From fighting in the Octagon to fighting on film

Over the last decade, Mixed Martial Arts has become one of the most popular sports worldwide. Some of the most famous fighters in MMA have not only become the biggest names in sports, but they also have gained attention outside of the octagon. One way in which MMA fighters have added to their fame is in Hollywood – like boxers and pro wrestlers before them, many MMA fighters have appeared in movies when a role calls for a legitimately tough individual and not just someone who can act tough. In particular, MMA fighters have found great success flexing their considerable muscles in action movies

With UFC 200 – perhaps the biggest MMA pay-per-view of all time – coming up, it’s worth looking at which MMA stars have become even more famous in movies. These five famous MMA fighters have gone from fighting in the octagon to acting in front of movie cameras.

01
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Gina Carano

Gina Carano
Relativity Media

Unlike most MMA fighters-turned-movie actors, Gina Carano's very first movie role was the lead role in an action film directed by a major filmmaker, Steven Soderbergh. In 2011’s Haywire, Carano stars as a former Marine investigating a conspiracy theory about government black ops. Also in the film are a number of major names, including Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Douglas. She followed that with major roles in other films, including Fast & Furious 6, Heist (with Robert De Niro), and Deadpool. She will also appear in Kickboxer: Vengeance alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dave Bautista, and Georges St-Pierre, as well as the sequel Kickboxer: Retaliation.

Carano hasn't fought since her August 2009 fight with "Cyborg" Cristiane Justino, which was Carano's only MMA loss. It's unlikely that she'll return to professional fighting, but she'll keep punching foes on movie screens.

02
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Georges St-Pierre

Georges St-Pierre
Marvel Studios

Canadian fighter Georges St-Pierre gained fame when he captured the UFC Welterweight Championship in 2006, a title he actually vacated in 2013 when he decided to take time off from MMA at arguably the height of his popularity. Part of the reason for taking time off was St-Pierre's growing movie career.

After appearing in three low-budget movies with other MMA fighters released in 2009 – Death Warrior, Hell's Chain, and Never Surrender – he appeared as the mercenary Batroc in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which grossed over $700 million worldwide. He'll next appear with Carano in Kickboxer: Vengeance, and there are rumors that he is reading to resume his MMA career later in 2016.

03
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Quinton "Rampage" Jackson

Quinton
20th Century Fox

Like Georges St-Pierre, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson began his acting career by appearing in low-budget action movies, including Confessions of a Pit Fighter (2005) and Bad Guys (2008), and even appeared with St-Pierre in 2009's Death Warrior, Hell's Chain, and Never Surrender.

Jackson's biggest role came in 2010's film adaptation of The A-Team, playing B.A. Baracus, the role made famous by Mr. T on the original TV series. Since then he's appeared in 2012's Fire with Fire with Bruce Willis and Rosario Dawson, and 2016's Vigilante Diaries with Jason Mewes, Michael Jai White, and Michael Madsen. Jackson continues to be an active fighter, and he'll be facing Japanese fighter Satoshi Ishii at Bellator 157 on June 24, 2016 – the same day Vigilante Diaries will be released.

04
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Randy Couture

Randy Couture
Lionsgate

UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture is a legend of the octagon, being the only fighter to have held both the UFC Heavyweight Championship and the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. Couture started his acting career in the minor role of "Fighter #8" in the 2003 Jet Li movie Cradle 2 the Grave, but his career really took off when he appeared with Li again in the three Expendables movies with Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jason Statham.

Couture has also appeared in many direct-to-video action films, like 2008's The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior, 2012's Hijacked, and 2013's Ambushed, and has appeared in several episodes of TV's Hawaii Five-0. He retired from MMA after his loss to Lyoto Machida in April 2011 at UFC 129, which has enabled him to devote more time to acting.

05
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Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey
Lionsgate

Olympic Bronze medalist and first-ever UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey is the biggest female star in MMA in recent years, and her crossover appeal is off the charts. Naturally, that has taken her into movies. Rousey's first major film role was fighting alongside the biggest movie action heroes in The Expendables 3, and then she appeared in an even bigger blockbuster franchise in Furious 7. She had a cameo as herself in 2015's Entourage, and she will be starring in the remake of the 1989 Patrick Swayze cult film Road House

Rousey is still in the prime of her career, though she is coming off her first-ever loss to Holly Holm in November 2015 at UFC 193 and has yet to schedule another fight.