The Ultimate Crossovers: MMA Fighters Who Proved Their Mettle in Different Combat Arenas

April 17, 2023
From: Spartacus
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You may have heard about some of your favorite fighters trying their hand at boxing, kickboxing, or even professional wrestling. But have you ever wondered why they do it? Is it for the money, the thrill, or just because they’re feeling adventurous?

Imagine you’re a big fan of Conor McGregor, and you hear that he’s going to be boxing against Floyd Mayweather. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? A money shower! Yes, we all know that crossing over to another combat sport can mean big bucks for the fighters. And who doesn’t love a good money shower? But the financial gain is just the tip of the iceberg. Fighters who cross over to other combat sports get the chance to test their skills against different opponents with different fighting styles. It’s like taking a break from your usual routine and trying out something new. And let’s be real, who hasn’t tried out a different sport just for the heck of it?

Crossing over also opens up doors for new opportunities and exposure. MMA fighters who cross over to boxing, kickboxing, or professional wrestling get to reach out to a new fan base. Who knows, they might even end up creating a new trend in the industry. And let’s face it, creating trends is pretty cool.

But let’s not forget the most important reason why fighters crossover: the thrill of competition. It’s like going on an adventure – you never know what you’re going to get, but you’re excited to find out. Crossing over to another combat sport is like that. It’s a chance to push yourself to the limit, to challenge yourself, and to see how you fare against some of the best in the business.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the famous fighters who have done it, the reasons why they did it, and the challenges they faced along the way.

Fighters Who Have Crossed Over to Boxing

Conor Mcgregor

Let’s talk about Conor McGregor’s journey from the octagon to the boxing ring! In 2017, McGregor, who is undoubtedly one of the most popular MMA fighters of all time, made the bold decision to take on boxing legend Floyd Mayweather. The announcement sent shockwaves through the combat sports community, and everyone was eager to see how McGregor would fare against one of the best boxers of all time.

After dominating the MMA scene for years, McGregor became one of the most recognizable faces in combat sports. He had a flamboyant personality, a unique fighting style, and a knack for talking trash. But McGregor was also a fighter who loved a challenge, and he wasn’t content with just dominating in the octagon.

As early as 2015, McGregor had hinted at his desire to cross over to boxing. He had sparred with professional boxers in the past, and he had always been confident in his striking ability. McGregor had also expressed a desire to fight Mayweather, who was widely considered one of the greatest boxers of all time. At the time, many fans dismissed the idea as a pipe dream, but McGregor was determined to make it happen.

In 2017, McGregor’s dream became a reality when he signed a contract to fight Mayweather in a boxing match. The bout was scheduled for August 26th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and it quickly became one of the most highly anticipated fights in combat sports history.

Despite facing a daunting challenge in Mayweather, McGregor remained confident and focused. He trained tirelessly for the bout, and he even brought in professional boxers to help him prepare. McGregor also talked a big game in the lead-up to the fight, predicting that he would knock Mayweather out in the first few rounds.

To the surprise of many, McGregor held his own in the ring, despite having no professional boxing experience prior to the fight. He landed some solid shots and even won a few rounds against Mayweather. While he ultimately lost the fight, McGregor proved that he was a versatile fighter who could compete in different combat sports.

So, why did McGregor cross over to boxing? Well, let’s be real here, the massive payday was certainly a factor. McGregor reportedly earned around $100 million for the bout, which is significantly more than his earnings from MMA fights. But it wasn’t just about the money. McGregor has always been a fighter who loves a challenge, and he wanted to test himself against the best boxers in the world.

Of course, McGregor faced many challenges in his transition to boxing. The rules of boxing are different from those of MMA, and McGregor had to adjust his style accordingly. He had to train specifically for boxing, which required a different skill set than MMA. And let’s not forget the pressure of going up against Mayweather, who was unbeaten in his professional career at the time. But McGregor rose to the occasion, and even in defeat, he proved that he was a fighter to be reckoned with in any combat sport.

Despite the loss, McGregor’s move to boxing was widely considered a success. He had proven that he could compete in a different combat sport, and he had earned a massive payday in the process. McGregor’s crossover to boxing had also paved the way for other MMA fighters to consider taking on boxing, and it had sparked a new wave of interest in combat sports crossovers.

Holly Holm


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Holly Holm is another MMA fighter who successfully crossed over to boxing. Before making a name for herself in MMA, Holm was a decorated boxer with an impressive record of 33 wins and just 2 losses. She was a multi-time world champion in multiple weight classes and was widely considered one of the best female boxers of all time.

In 2011, Holm made the decision to transition to MMA. She had already achieved everything she wanted in boxing and was ready for a new challenge. Holm quickly made a name for herself in MMA, winning her first seven fights and becoming the inaugural UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion in 2015.

Despite her success in MMA, Holm never lost her love for boxing. In 2017, she made the decision to return to the sport that had made her a legend. Her first fight back was against Anne Sophie Mathis, who had previously beaten Holm in a controversial bout in 2011.

The rematch between Holm and Mathis was highly anticipated, and it did not disappoint. Holm put on a masterful performance, unboxing Mathis for 10 rounds and winning a unanimous decision. The victory was a reminder of just how skilled Holm was as a boxer, even after years away from the sport.

Like McGregor, Holm was motivated by a desire to challenge herself against the best in the world. She had already achieved everything she wanted in boxing, but she wanted to see if she could still compete at the highest level.

However, the transition back to boxing was not without its challenges. Holm had to readjust to the rules of boxing after years of fighting in MMA, which allowed for different techniques and strategies. She also had to retrain her body for the specific demands of boxing, which required a different type of conditioning and endurance. And finally, she had to face opponents who were just as skilled and experienced as she was, with no guarantees of victory.

Despite these challenges, Holm’s return to boxing was a success. She proved that she could still compete at the highest level and added another impressive accomplishment to her already legendary career. And, like McGregor, Holm’s crossover to boxing helped to showcase the versatility and skill of MMA fighters, paving the way for more crossovers in the future.

Fighters Who Have Crossed Over to Kickboxing

Alistair Overeem


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Alistair Overeem is not your average MMA fighter. He’s also a kickboxing champion, with a successful career that began long before his foray into mixed martial arts. Overeem’s early years were spent honing his skills in kickboxing, and it didn’t take long for him to become a standout talent.

By the time Overeem transitioned to MMA in 2007, he had already achieved a lot in kickboxing. He was a K-1 World Grand Prix champion, having defeated some of the best kickboxers in the world to earn the title. But Overeem didn’t stop there. He wanted to test himself in another combat sport and try his hand at the rapidly growing world of MMA.

Overeem’s move to MMA was a smart one. He quickly made a name for himself in the sport, fighting in promotions all over the world and taking on some of the biggest names in the game. But despite his success, Overeem never forgot his roots in kickboxing.

In 2017, Overeem made the decision to return to kickboxing, signing with Glory Kickboxing, one of the biggest promotions in the sport. His return was highly anticipated, and fans were excited to see if he still had what it takes to compete at the highest level.

Overeem’s first fight back in kickboxing was a success, as he defeated a tough opponent and showcased the striking skills that had made him a champion before. His return to kickboxing was also a win for the sport itself, as it brought more attention and interest from fans who may not have been familiar with it before.

But what motivated Overeem to crossover to kickboxing? Like McGregor and Holm, Overeem wanted to challenge himself and see if he could still compete at the highest level in another combat sport. He also wanted to bring more attention to kickboxing and showcase the talent and skill of its fighters.

Of course, the transition back to kickboxing was not without its challenges. Overeem had to adjust to the different rules and techniques of the sport, as well as retrain his body for the specific demands of kickboxing. He also had to face opponents who were just as skilled and experienced as he was, with no guarantees of victory.

Despite these challenges, Overeem’s return to kickboxing was a success. He proved that he could still compete at the highest level and added another impressive accomplishment to his already impressive career. And who knows? Perhaps more MMA fighters will be inspired to follow in Overeem’s footsteps and crossover to kickboxing or other combat sports in the future.

Mirko Cro Cop


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Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic is a Croatian MMA fighter who also achieved success in kickboxing. Cro Cop’s combat sports career began in kickboxing in 1996, where he won several titles and established himself as one of the best fighters in the sport.

Cro Cop’s success in combat sports can be attributed to his incredible athleticism and determination. Before he began his kickboxing career, he played professional soccer in Croatia and had a promising career ahead of him. However, after suffering a knee injury, he decided to pursue kickboxing and found his true calling in combat sports.

During his kickboxing career, Cro Cop became known for his devastating left high kick, which earned him the nickname “Cro Cop” (short for “Croatian Cop”). He won several titles, including the K-1 World Grand Prix title in 2000 and 2003, and established himself as one of the best fighters in the sport.

In 2001, Cro Cop made the transition to MMA and quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with. He fought in Pride FC, where he became known for his brutal knockout victories, and later fought in the UFC, where he faced some of the biggest names in the sport.

Cro Cop’s fighting style was characterised by his striking skills and knockout power, but he was also a skilled grappler and submission artist. His versatility and athleticism made him a formidable opponent in both kickboxing and MMA.

Despite his success in both sports, Cro Cop’s career was not without its setbacks. He suffered several injuries throughout his career, including a serious eye injury in a fight against Gabriel Gonzaga in 2007. However, he persevered and continued to fight, earning the respect of fans and fellow fighters alike.

Cro Cop’s return to kickboxing in 2012 was a testament to his love for the sport and his determination to prove himself once again. For him, it was a chance to return to the sport he loved and prove that he still had what it took to compete at the highest level. Cro Cop had already achieved a lot in MMA, but he wanted to see if he could still hang with the best kickboxers in the world.

His success in the K-1 World Grand Prix was a fitting end to his kickboxing career and cemented his legacy as one of the best fighters of his generation. The challenges faced by fighters crossing over from one combat sport to another are significant, but fighters like Cro Cop prove that it can be done with hard work, dedication, and a willingness to learn and adapt. Their crossovers help to showcase the versatility and skill of combat sports athletes, and inspire future generations of fighters to push themselves to new heights.

Fighters Who Have Crossed Over to Professional Wrestling

Ronda Rousey


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Ronda Rousey is a true trailblazer in the world of combat sports. Before becoming a professional wrestler, Rousey made a name for herself in judo, earning a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympic Games. Her incredible success in judo led her to pursue a career in MMA, where she became the first-ever UFC women’s bantamweight champion and defended her title six times.

After retiring from MMA, Rousey was on the lookout for a new challenge, and professional wrestling seemed like the perfect fit. She had been a lifelong fan of the sport and had even made a few appearances in the past.

In 2018, Rousey made her professional wrestling debut at WrestleMania 34, the biggest event in the industry. She quickly made an impact and was soon signed to a full-time contract with WWE.

Rousey’s time in professional wrestling was short but incredibly successful. She won the Raw Women’s Championship in her first year with the company and went on to headline WrestleMania 35, one of the biggest events in WWE history.

But the transition to professional wrestling wasn’t without its challenges. Rousey had to learn a whole new set of skills and techniques, such as how to perform scripted matches and promos, and adjust to a different type of physicality in the ring. She also had to face critics who doubted her ability to succeed in the industry, as well as navigate the demanding schedule and travel requirements of being a professional wrestler.

Despite these challenges, Rousey proved to be a natural in the ring. Her athleticism, strength, and charisma made her a fan favourite, and she quickly became one of the biggest stars in the industry. Her crossover to professional wrestling not only showcased her skills but also helped to break down barriers and open up new opportunities for combat sports athletes looking to explore new challenges.

As Rousey proved, there’s no limit to what combat sports athletes can achieve. Whether it’s in MMA, kickboxing, or professional wrestling, the world is full of opportunities for those with the drive and determination to succeed. 

Ken Shamrock


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Ken Shamrock is a true pioneer in both mixed martial arts (MMA) and professional wrestling. His combat sports journey began in the early 1990s, where he competed in the early days of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and other promotions like Pancrase. He quickly became known for his tenacity and unmatched skills inside the octagon, earning him a reputation as one of the toughest fighters in MMA history.

But Shamrock’s talents didn’t end with MMA. In 1997, he made his professional wrestling debut with the WWE (then known as WWF) and quickly became a fan favourite. With his intense personality and impressive in-ring skills, Shamrock proved to be a force to be reckoned with in the squared circle.

In his time as a professional wrestler, Shamrock achieved a number of notable accomplishments, including winning the Intercontinental Championship and the Tag Team Championship. He also competed in other promotions like TNA and the Japan-based Wrestle-1, where he continued to showcase his athleticism and prowess in the ring.

For Shamrock, crossing over to professional wrestling was a chance to explore a new challenge and reach a wider audience. Already a legend in MMA, he wanted to see if he could translate his skills and success to the world of professional wrestling.

However, the transition wasn’t easy. Shamrock had to learn new techniques and skills to perform scripted matches and promos, as well as adjust to the different physicality and theatrics of professional wrestling. Despite these challenges, he was able to prove that he could compete at the highest level and become one of the most popular wrestlers of his era. Shamrock’s crossover to professional wrestling helped to showcase the versatility and skill of combat sports athletes. 


The transition from one combat sport to another is no easy feat, but the fighters who have successfully crossed over have proved that it is possible to achieve greatness in more than one discipline. From McGregor’s foray into boxing, to Holm’s championship run in kickboxing, and Rousey and Shamrock’s success in professional wrestling, these fighters have shown us that versatility, adaptability, and a willingness to take on new challenges can lead to incredible achievements.

Not only have these crossovers expanded the horizons of the combat sports world, they have also shown us the importance of respecting and appreciating the various disciplines. MMA, boxing, kickboxing, and professional wrestling all require different skills and techniques, and the fighters who have successfully transitioned have had to work hard to learn and master them.

As we look to the future, it will be exciting to see what other fighters will follow in their footsteps and cross over to other combat sports. Perhaps we will see more MMA fighters try their hand at boxing, or kickboxers test their skills in MMA. Whatever the case may be, we can be sure that these crossovers will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in combat sports, and inspire us all to reach for new heights of achievement.

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