What a Rush! The 14 Greatest (and 3 Worst) Pro-Wrestling Moves Used in MMA


(“Call me Aldo Montoya again, bitch!”)

By Seth Falvo (@SethFalvo)

When Nick Ring walked to the cage on Saturday accompanied by professional wrestling legend Bret “The Hitman” Hart, it was one more example of mixed martial arts’ quirky love affair with professional wrestling. Oh sure, we like to pretend that we have nothing in common with those peculiar Puroresu practitioners because our sport is real, both in terms of the violence and the personalities associated with it. Nonsense. With fake fighters crossing over to the real stuff, real fighters crossing over to the fake stuff, fake matches “borrowing” their outcomes from real fights, real promos “borrowing” from the classic fake stuff and multiple guys dabbling in both sports, the line between the two is arguably blurrier now than it was back when Ken Shamrock was ankle locking fools in the World Wrestling Federation.

It should come as no surprise then that we’ve seen our share of professional fighters attempting honest-to-God professional wrestling moves in real fights. We know, we know: We’re totally not supposed to be trying this stuff at home. But fortunately for us, the following brave men have ignored the countless warnings, the advice of their trainers and their own common sense to provide us with the most entertainingly reckless ways to injure their fellow men.

But before we break out the face paint and spandex, let’s establish how I’ll be ranking such absurd maneuvers. The moves will be ranked based on their immediate effectivenesshow true to form they stay to their kayfabe counterparts, and the competence of their opponents. Let’s face it: Even if you do something insanely cool and difficult from professional wrestling in an MMA fight, if you then get knocked out, you still look like a chump. Let’s also acknowledge that a punch to a downed opponent has no business being called The Worm without the accompanying theatrics. Finally, it’s a lot easier to pull off a complex move in a fight when your opponent totally sucks at fighting. Those are my rules, and if you’re not down with that, I got two words for ya: LET’S BEGIN!

14.) Bob Sapp Piledrives Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at PRIDE Shockwave, 8/28/2002.

For those of you who are new here, believe it or not Bob Sapp used to actually try during his fightsAfter crushing two straight foes while looking absolutely terrifying in the process, ”The Beast” found himself across the ring from PRIDE heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Right from the start, Big Nog shoots for a takedown and immediately gets caught between Sapp’s monstrous legs. What follows is one of both men’s most iconic moments: Sapp pulls Nogueira up and piledrives him straight to the canvas.

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Either that piledriver wasn’t nearly as effective as it looked, or it was far too effective and had zombified Big Nog, because Nogueira refused to stay down afterwards. Well damn, dropping the guy straight on his neck didn’t work. Now what? If you’re Bob Sapp, you respond by unsuccessfully attempting more piledrivers while your Brazilian foe mounts what I’m on record calling the greatest comeback in MMA history, eventually securing a fight ending armbar.

While this fight established Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira as a bonafide badass, it also proved once and for all that one should bring a more diverse strategy into a bout against a top heavyweight fighter than “repeatedly attempt to break his neck with a professional wrestling move.” Attempting to break his shoulder with a jiu-jitsu hold, however…

13.) Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett Uses the Airplane Spin Against Anthony McDavitt at King of the Cage: Legends, 6/6/2009.

Let’s pretend you’re a cocky journeyman with nothing resembling a ground game. Some punk tries to lock in an armbar against you, not realizing that you are Krazy with a capital K. How do you handle this?

If you answered “spin him around like I’m a coked up 80′s wrestler and slam him head first into the cage on my way to a split-decision loss,” then accept my condolences: you and Bennett have the exact same problem solving skills. I’d advise you to stay in school and keep away from drugs, but apparently that’s what got you in this mess in the first place. So drop out and do a lot of meth, I guess.

12.) Houston Alexander Chokeslams Thiago Silva at UFC 78, 11/17/2007.
(The slam comes at the 1:23 mark.) 

When then-feared knockout artist Houston “The Assassin” Alexander (Ah, how nostalgic that felt to type) found himself across the cage from Thiago Silva, he knew he’d have to break out something extra special to keep the suspiciously burly Brazilian down. Taking a cue from the giants of professional wrestling that came before him, Alexander decided that the easiest way to knock out Silva was to use a straight-up chokeslam on him.

Unfortunately for Alexander, it turns out that them pro wrasslers is lyin’ to us: A chokeslam is no more devastating than any other takedown. Especially when you’re a fish out of water on the ground and your opponent is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. Alexander would go on to get knocked out in the first round by Silva, end up on the wrong end of what was then the UFC’s fastest knockout, get choked out by Eric Schafer and released from the UFC, brought back to job to Kimbo Slice and has currently lost two straight fights by way of vicious knockout. But other than that, his life is just wonderful.

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11.) Mark Hunt Leg Drops Wanderlei Silva at PRIDE Shockwave 2004, 12/31/2004.

(Leg drop comes around 6:45)

It’s no secret that Mark Hunt was as one-dimensional as they came when he first started competing in MMA. When the Samoan kickboxer found himself staring at a grounded Wanderlei Silva, he wisely decided that a grappling match was not in his best interest. Rather, Mark Hunt figured that attempting a giant leg drop was his best option in this situation. Hey, it worked for Hulk Hogan, right?

Even though Hunt would have only connected with Silva’s stomach if it landed cleanly, and ended up with a pissed off Axe Murderer in his guard, it technically still worked: Super Samoan walked away with a split-decision victory that night.

10.) Ikuhisa Minowa Dropkicks Butterbean at PRIDE Bushido 12, 8/26/2006

For those who have never seen “Minowaman” fight, allow me to break down a typical fight of his for you in four easy steps:

Step One: Sign up to fight someone who is more than twice your size yet only half as skilled.
Step Two: Do something weird to train, like ask your sparring partners to sit on each others’ shoulders while poking at you with sticks.
Step Three: Attempt a professional wrestling move at some point during your fight.
Step Four: Either submit your oversized grappling dummy, or get beaten to a pulp by the much larger foe.

Any questions?

9.) Jon Jones Suplexes Stephan Bonnar at UFC 94, 1/31/2009

8.) Jon Jones Suplexes Brad Bernard at Full Force Productions: Untamed 20, 4/12/2008.

Yes, nerds: I’m well aware that suplexes are legitimate wrestling takedowns. Well la-dee-frickin’-da. Let me guess, you also call rappers by their real names instead of their stage names, complain about the “unrealistic” parts of science fiction movies and just can’t enjoy a hilarious YouTube video because of all the bad grammar in the comments section.

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Now, if you’re looking for an MMA bout that will more than likely produce a German suplex that would make Chris Benoit blush, put the arrogant hotshot who would go on to be the youngest champion in UFC history (and arguably the greatest American MMA fighter in the brief history of our sport) in the cage with an aging veteran and let nature take its course. If you’re looking for one that is practically guaranteed to produce a wild double underhook suplex, lock said hotshot in the cage with an unathletic looking self-described “bar room brawler” who is 0-2 in cage fights and keep a camera on them at all times.

Since being dominated by Jon Jones, Brad Bernard has wisely walked away from the sober, sanctioned stuff. Likewise, Stephan Bonnar lost his next two, then won his next three, then maybe retired, but definitely ruled out the possibility of a rematch. Oh, and I guess this Jones guy has been doing okay, too.

7.) Jonathan Ivey Uses The People’s Elbow on Some Fatty (Event and Date Unknown)

I have no idea who the tubby in the yellow trunks is that’s doing his best Bob Sapp impression. I have no idea what event this went down at, or even what year this fight took place during. What I do know is that the fighter in black trunks is none other than heavyweight journeyman Jonathan Ivey, who upon seeing that for once he’s actually the guy doing the damage, decides to use The People’s Elbow against that disgusting fatbody.

Technically, you’re right: I have no idea if Jonathan Ivey actually won this fight, so it shouldn’t really be this high up on the list. But come on, once you allow someone to use The People’s Elbow on you in a real fight – most of the theatrics included – you automatically lose. In a just world (i.e. my mind), the referee watched Ivey dance his way into The People’s Elbow and immediately stopped the contest. Ivey celebrated, while chunky decided to retire from the sport, grow a killer mustache, adopt a beagle and never speak of his career as one of them Vale Tudo fellers again.

Hit that “next page” link for another example of PRIDE being awesome, a throwback clip of the WEC imitating WCW, and the perfect way to finish an opponent…

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