The longest reigning WWE champion of the past 28 years makes his long-awaited MMA debut at UFC 203, but finds himself rated a 3/1 outsider to claim victory over Mickey Gall, who himself is only stepping inside UFC’s octagon for the second time.
CM Punk walked out on WWE in January 2014 and made the even more shocking decision to sign with UFC later that year, but it has taken almost two years for him to be in a position to compete owing to a series of injuries, and he doesn’t have much punter support.
However, six other WWE alumni have made successful starts in MMA this century:
Dave Bautista has made the best WWE-to-Hollywood transition since The Rock, being the star turn in 2014 summer smash Guardians of the Galaxy and even getting to be a James Bond villain in Spectre, but before that he had an MMA itch to scratch, which he did with a 2012 TKO win over Vince Lucero.
The fleeting ECW and WWE employee’s MMA career was similarly shortlived, yet it got off to a promising start when he defeated Joe Nameth by TKO in the first round of his first fight in 2008.
Alberto Del Rio
Born into a family of Mexican wrestling legends – son of Dos Caras and nephew of Mil Mascaras – and proving a hit in his homeland and WWE, there was no pressure on Del Rio to sample MMA, but he fought 14 times, prevailing nine times, including in the first minute of his opener against Kengo Watanabe.
O’Haire was viewed as a wrestler of great potential in WCW and WWE, without truly receiving the opportunities to fulfil it, so tried his hand at MMA instead in 2004, winning his first two bouts and four of his overall six.
Lashley was earmarked for greatness at WWE, feuding with owner Vince McMahon in 2007. He left for personal reasons the next year though and has since simultaneously competed in wrestling for TNA and MMA for several companies with outstanding results, as a 14-2 record attests.
Oh, and then there’s Lesnar. Despite being the most established fighter on this list, becoming UFC heavyweight champion in 2008, he lost his debut for the organisation to Frank Mir. His overall MMA bow came against Kim Min-Soo a year earlier though, and he swiftly made the South Korean submit.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.