Big Screen Action Stars with MMA Experience

Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris arrives at Lionsgate Films’ “The Expendables 2”


When someone mentions big time action stars, names like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, and Jet Li instantly pop into my mind. All of these stars have graced the big screen in remarkable roles, showcasing unbelievable fighting skills and techniques. Have you ever wondered though, how they would stack up in real life MMA action?

Critics say it is one thing to play a martial arts star, and quite a different matter to do it in reality. There are some stars that have stepped up to the challenge and have ventured off of the screen and into combat. Some examples are:

Jean-Claude Van Damme

The “Muscles from Brussels” is a familiar face to movie fans. He has spent the past 30 years gracing the big screen with action flicks such as Bloodsport, Time Cop, and Universal Soldier. How tough is he in real life though? Well, prior to acting, Van Damme was accomplished in martial arts. He holds a black belt in karate and has studied Kick Boxing, Muay Thai, and Taekwondo. Between 1976 and 1982, Van Damm competed in Karate and Kick Boxing action, compiling a career record of 20-2. All twenty victories came by the way of KO, and both losses were controversial decisions. Unfortunately, the big screen came calling and Van Damm left the sport for fame and fortune. Look out though, now at the age of 50, Van Damme is once again willing to step up and put his muscles behind his mouth. This spring, he will compete in a K-1 Kick Boxing bout against Somluck Kamsing, who was a gold medal Olympian boxer and professional Kick Boxer.

Ernie Reyes Jr.

Reyes is best known for roles in the action films Red Sonya, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, and Rush Hour 2. He always portrayed a savvy martial arts character with breathtaking ability. Wonder how he’d fare in a real MMA fight? He put his fighting ability to the test, competing for Strikeforce in its early days, and stormed to a perfect 3-0 record.

Steven Seagal

Seagal is a real life Aikido black belt, although you probably know him better from movies such as Out for Justice, Under Siege, and Above the Law. Ok, he hasn’t fought professionally, but he has been seen taking a special interest in MMA and helping to train actual fighters including UFC stars Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva. At 58 years old, a professional debut it unlikely, but he seems to be actively pursuing a mentoring and training role for today’s top stars.

Chuck Norris

Perhaps the most accomplished fighter on this list, the 71 year old Norris graced us with action flicks such as Lone Wolf McQuade, Missing in Action, and Firewalker. Noted as one of Hollywood’s true tough guys, he is a Karate black belt and has even developed his own hybrid martial arts discipline called Chun Kuk Do. In the 1970’s he was virtually unbeatable, amassing a career record of 183-10-2. He also was also the World Middleweight Karate Champion from 1968 up until his retirement in 1974. There is little doubt that he was instrumental in introducing western culture to martial arts and is a true MMA pioneer.

So there you have it, four movie tough guys who proved they can cut it in the MMA world. What’s next, Dolph Lundgren vs. Fedor or maybe Vin Diesel vs. Frank Mir? Only time will tell, but it is safe to say it is easier for fighters to migrate to acting than vice versa.

Source: Darren Barcomb
Image: Promo image

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