UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya recently made his walkout to the octagon carrying an urn containing his opponent’s ashes in homage to the WWE’s Undertaker. The former kickboxer has previously expressed his interest in professional wrestling and recently gave an interview where he hinted that the squared circle could be part of his future plans.
As far as current UFC champions go, few have as many title defences as Israel Adesanya, and despite losing a fight when going up in weight class, he’s been largely untroubled in MMA. He’s defeated all of the number one contenders so far, putting on some impressive striking displays and expertly countering his opponents with his long reach and great skills. One opponent that could give him problems is Alex Pereira, a Brazilian kickboxer who has previously knocked out Adesanya in the ring. Betway odds show that Israel is still the favourite for their MMA rematch, but it’s likely to be a close fight.
Why Adesanya Might be Thinking About Pro Wrestling
Adesanya defended his middleweight championship belt with a unanimous decision victory over Jarod Cannonier in his most recent performance. The New Zealand-based fighter made a showy ring walk before the fight, something that’s become a part of his brand and shows that he potentially has the showmanship to compete in professional wrestling. Adesanya wore a wide-brimmed hat, carried an urn and made his walk to the infamous “Rest in Peace” music.
His performance was watched by none other than Vince McMahon, the former CEO of the WWE. Vince was sitting with his daughter, Stephanie McMahon alongside wrestling legend Triple-H and WWE commentator Pat MacAfee, who were no doubt impressed by Adesanya’s ring walk and title defence. If Adesanya does have aspirations to join the WWE, he couldn’t have asked for a better audience.
“I didn’t even realize the McMahons were even in the house tonight,” Adesanya claimed when interviewed after the fight. “That’s pretty cool. Triple-H, too.” He also stated how he had grown up watching WWE’s attitude era and that he has regularly practised the moves on his friends as a kid. He was also asked whether he would be interested in performing in the WWE in the future.
“Definitely that’s something I will try my hand at later on. Just for fun.” However, he was quick to point out that he wouldn’t necessarily be making it his full-time job. He stated that it would most likely not be in the near future and it wouldn’t be full-time. In that sense, it would probably be similar to stars like Tyson Fury and Floyd Mayweather who made guest appearances in the WWE.
Other MMA Fighters Who Have Transitioned to Pro Wrestling
Adesanya wouldn’t be the first MMA fighter to try his hand at pro wrestling with the WWE. Former women’s bantamweight superstar Ronda Rousey made the switch to WWE in 2018 after retiring from MMA following her loss to Amanda Nunes. She most recently won the Royal Rumble 2022 match, earning a shot at the Women’s Championship at Wrestlemania 38.
More recently, the WWE gained former Bellator starlet Valeria Loureda. Although she was still fairly new to professional MMA, Loureda had amassed a large following of fans thanks to her entertaining style. She signed a multi-year deal with the WWE in 2022 and is hoping to become the first Cuban American woman to be a professional wrestling superstar.
Of course, the most famous example of an MMA fighter who also performed in the WWE is Brock Lesnar. Unusually though, Lesnar moved the opposite way, going from being a WWE champion to becoming the undisputed UFC champion.