Washington Nationals Star Bryce Harper launching a looping right hook that landed on Giants Pitcher Hunter Strickland’s grill made the MLB’s Memorial Day program the first game of the season worth viewing. Based on Harper’s form it is safe to say he won’t be following the likes of Brendan Schaub, Matt Mitrione, and Herschel Walker, into MMA but it does lead us to ask the question: Which mainstream athletes would have the most success in MMA if given the proper training? The following will examine which athletes in the four major U.S. sports organizations could potentially make the switch based on their abilities and careers thus far.
NFL: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots – Heavyweight – 6’6” 265 lbs.
The Alpha Male machine known as “Gronk” fits the MMA mold perfectly with his physical attributes, athletic ability, and personality. A born showman as seen in his appearance at WWE’s Wrestlemania, he would sell PPV’s no matter how he performed. His natural size fits perfectly in the Heavyweight Division with speed and agility that would be unmatched by his opponents. Unfortunately, Gronk is the only professional athlete that finds himself injured more than Cain Velasquez and his career would likely end before it ever began.
MLB: Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers – Welterweight – 5’11’ 190 lbs.
Gritty Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor is the athlete on this list that would make the transition with the least effort. Odor would need to cut down to Welterweight given his height, but a 20 lb. cut would not be anything drastic. Even after the cut, his speed and agility would rank among the elite fighters in the division. Add to this that the man can already throw a devastating right hand as seen in his knee buckling shot landed on Toronto’s Jose Bautista, and he is a danger to anyone in his path.
NBA: John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards – Light Heavyweight – 6’4” 210 lbs.
Although the majority of the world would suggest Lebron James for this spot, he is far too big of a pussy to make my list. John Wall possesses a lengthy frame that he could add muscle mass onto and still comfortably cut down to 205 at fight time. Wall moves on the court as smooth as a young Gazelle. He often finds ways to stretch and bend to the basket when it seems impossible. I see his smooth flow and flexibility allowing him to quickly become a BJJ ace as well as a force within the Light Heavyweight Division.
NHL: Shawn Thornton, RW, Florida Panthers – Middleweight – 6’2” 217 lbs.
Much like on the ice, Thornton possesses the least talent of this group by far. On top of this, at only 6’2” 217 lbs. he is too small for light heavyweight and would need to cut a few pounds to get in a position for a healthy weight cut to 185. Luckily for Thornton, this shouldn’t be a problem. Anyone that knows hockey players can tell you they look like Average Joe’s. Two months in a top MMA gym and his soft body will transform into 200 pounds of in shape male. Although the many barriers to success listed above are surely an issue, Thornton’s last name could very well be Diaz. Just like the brothers from the 209, Thornton will fight anyone, anywhere, anytime, with reckless abandon. Thornton had more fights in his NHL career (182) than he did goals scored (42). Thornton is a born fighter and has the mentality for MMA success. In the end though, Thornton made the right choice fighting inside glass instead of a cage. He earned roughly $8.5 million dollars for these 182 fights lasting roughly a minute each, making him a higher paid fighter than 99% of the MMA world.