McGregor, Volkanowski, Gane: Famous MMA fighters who came to martial arts from other sports

Alisa Barladyan
03 Jul 2022
11:57

Most representatives of martial arts began their acquaintance with the sport at a very early age. But there are also fighters, who initially succeeded in other sports, but then decided to change their field of activity drastically. In this piece, we will talk about some athletes who came into fighting from other sports.

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Matt Mitrione
Matt Mitrione

Fedor Emelianenko's opponent first started in American football. Mitrione managed to play in the NFL for two teams - Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. But Mitrione's career in American football ended because of injuries: he had to use crutches for a year.

When Matt realized he wouldn't make it in football, he turned his attention to mixed martial arts. Mitrione participated in the 10th season of The Ultimate Fighter. The fighter performed quite successfully and got a contract with Dana White's promotion. In less than 12 years, Mitrione managed to fight under MMA rules 23 times and racked up a record of 13-9-0-1. Of course, the most significant victory of Matt's career happened on June 24, 2017, when he won by technical knockout against Fedor Emelianenko at the Bellator 180 tournament.

Matt Mitrione
Matt Mitrione
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At the start of his career, Notorious played soccer and was a player for Luders Celtic (Manchester United's affiliate club). Conor passed a tough selection and established himself in the core. McGregor liked to play in attack - he did a lot of feints and scored. Coaches noted that at first Conor was a very humble guy. He was interested in tactics and was ready to polish his strikes until late at night.

However, the hot temper of the future UFC star played a bad joke on him. Conor was ruthless to his opponents and got into fights on the field. Ultimately, the love for martial arts won, and McGregor fully devoted himself to MMA training, becoming a true legend and a millionaire.

Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor

In 2010, Hardy was selected at number 175 during the draft. Greg signed his first professional contract with the Carolina Panthers. In his first season, the athlete appeared only as a substitute, but later became a consistent player in the starting lineup. In 2014, Hardy's first problems with the law began: he was accused of domestic violence. The player stayed in the team, received a salary, but was no longer on the field.

In March 2015, Greg signed an $11.3 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys. However, the athlete didn't have time to fulfill the agreement. In 2016, Hardy was arrested for possession of a controlled substance.

Greg Hardy
Greg Hardy
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In October 2016, Greg decided to leave American football for MMA. In June 2018, the fighter competed in the Dana White's Contender Series. In his first three fights under mixed martial arts rules, Hardy defeated his opponents by knockout in the first round. However, in his first fight in the UFC, Greg lost because of a banned knee strike. In total, the athlete had nine fights in Dana White's organization and was fired after three consecutive losses.

On June 16, 2022, Greg Hardy signed with the elite fist-fighting league Bare Knuckle FC. The fighter is only 33 years old but he has tried his hand at three different sports already.

Greg Hardy
Greg Hardy

The UFC featherweight champion once weighed nearly 100 kilograms and practiced rugby. At the age of 14, Alex left wrestling and concentrated on rugby training. Volkanovski played for the Warilla Gorillas in a regional semi-professional league. Alex's team won the championship in 2011, and Alexander "The Great" became the best player of the finals.

The future UFC champion played rugby until 2012, until he switched to mixed martial arts. In seven years, Alex went from his first professional fight in MMA to the champion of the world's best league in a competitive division.

Alexander Volkanovski
Alexander Volkanovski
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Another American football descendant who has made significant strides in mixed martial arts. Dominick played American football at the college level and even entered the NFL draft, but never signed with any club in the league.

Eventually, Reyes decided to switch to MMA. The fighter racked up a streak of six consecutive wins and signed with the UFC. Dominick went on to win the Dana White's promotion and made it to the championship fight with Jon Jones. Reyes managed to give the reigning king of the light heavyweight division a lot of trouble but ultimately lost by the unanimous decision of the judges. In another title fight against Jan Blachowicz, Dominick was sent to bed. It should be said that having two title fights in the best MMA organization of the world is a great result for a former soccer player.

Dominick Reyes
Dominick Reyes

The American fighter is now on a streak of three straight losses in the UFC and is on the verge of being fired from the promotion.

During his college days, Walt played basketball, playing on Jacksonville University team and even was invited to one of the NBA clubs for an internship. At the same time, Harris attended boxing training and won the Golden Gloves tournament for youth. When the fighter graduated, he was faced with a difficult choice - basketball or martial arts. In the end, Walt chose the brutal fights.

Walt Harris
Walt Harris
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Almost every Canadian kid dreams of playing hockey in the NHL. However, Steve Bosse never reached the heights of the sport he loves. Bosse played in the lower North American leagues and was an enforcer. Steve has 205 fights in 204 hockey games to his name. Bosse realized he was better at punching people's faces and decided to pursue a career in MMA and boxing.

From 2007 to 2013, Steve lost only once and signed with the UFC. Bosse fought only three fights in Dana White's organization (2-1 record) and quit on a two-fight win streak. Steve has been fighting under boxing rules since 2018, but the former hockey player cannot boast of any accomplishments, he has one win and one loss.

Steve Bosse
Steve Bosse

While hockey is the number one sport in Canada, in Brazil, it is soccer. Jessica Andrade was an excellent soccer player and showed good promise. The Brazilian was offered an opportunity to play in Sao Paulo, but to do so, Andrade would have had to leave her hometown. Jessica's mother was against her daughter's relocation, and the girl stayed.

Then the Brazilian athlete discovered the world of BJJ and MMA. In 2011, Andrade had her first mixed martial arts fight. Jessica liked it so much that she fought 11 times in two years and signed a contract with the UFC. Since 2013, the tough Brazilian has been impressing the MMA public with her power and even managed to be the promotion's strawweight champion.

Jessica Andrade
Jessica Andrade
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"The Good Guy" from France loved soccer and basketball, and he was pretty good at it. But Ciryl Gane never made it to the professional level. Martial arts took over the handsome guy, and he started doing kickboxing and Thai boxing.

From August 2, 2018, to January 22, 2022, Ciryl was an undefeated fighter with a 10-0 record (7-0 UFC record). But at UFC 270, the organization's heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou showed the world his wrestling and defeated "The Good Guy." However, the fact that Gane went from his first fight in MMA to interim champion of the UFC in three years is admirable.

Ciryl Gane
Ciryl Gane

As practice shows, non-martial athletes can reach the heights of MMA and compete at the regional level and become champions in the world's best organizations.

Source: mma.metaratings

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