MMATorch Daily Top Five 5/24: Top MMA Fighters Turned Actors

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

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5/24/16: Top MMA Fighters Turned Actors

It was revealed this week that Paige VanZant will become the latest fighter to jump to Hollywood, taking a role in Jean Claude Van-Damme’s “Kickboxer: Retaliation.” With that in mind, today we look at some past fighters who have made the leap, and who’s done it best.

5. Georges St-Pierre: The bar isn’t set very high for VanZant in all honesty, because there haven’t been all that many who have made a run at the big screen and who have done so multiple times. St-Pierre, for example, has just a handful of credits, with one further major role yet to come in the as-of-yet unreleased “Kickboxer: Vengeance.” However, his turn as comic book villain George Batroc in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was a memorable big screen showcase in one of the biggest movies of 2014. Though it didn’t ask much for him in the acting department, it was still a significantly entertaining part and St-Pierre handled himself well.

4. Ronda Rousey: Rousey gets a slight edge over St-Pierre simply because of the more mainstream face time she’s gotten for each of her roles. Still raw as far as acting ability is concerned, Rousey’s nevertheless gotten significant screen time in “The Expendables 3,” “Furious 7,” and “Entourage.” None have been career changes, per se, as Rousey’s received some rightful criticism regarding some line delivery, and she hasn’t taken to the screen just yet quite as naturally as one might think with how many roles she keeps getting. However, those roles have been booked, and she’s getting work in that field in order to improve.

3. Randy Couture: Among the more prolific on the actor side for a fighter, Randy Couture has amassed a fairly significant filmography since making the leap, and the UFC Hall of Famer continues to land roles on film and TV. He’s appeared in all three “Expendables” films, starred in a “Scorpion King” sequel, and had a recurring role on TV’s “Hawaii 5-0.” He’s not going to be winning awards any time soon, but he continues to find work in his second career.

2. Cung Le: Speaking of prolific, Le has gotten himself multiple roles in nearly every year since 2009, with some high profile spots contained in his filmography. Perhaps peaking with 2012’s “The Man With the Iron Fists,” Le also made a memorable appearance in 2009’s “Pandorum,” and has done significant action work in everything from “Tekken” to TV’s “Into the Badlands.”

1. Gina Carano: The easy pick for number one, Carano has been in several medium to big budget films, and just had a turn as villainous mutant Angel Dust in the highest grossing R-rated film of all time, “Deadpool.” Adding in a starring role in Steven Soderbergh’s underrated “Haywire” in 2011 and work alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Vin Diesel, and Paul Walker in “Fast & Furious 6,” and she’s continuing to impress on the screen. She joins St-Pierre in the upcoming “Kickboxer: Vengeance,” and has a couple of other projects in the pipeline as well. She may never be a breakout movie star, but she’s become a more than adequate player, and the height to which someone like VanZant should aspire to reach in these endeavors.

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