In addition to being the world’s premiere mixed martial arts fighting league, the Ultimate Fighting Championship is also known for producing some of the stage and screen’s finest thespians. Here are just five examples of the emotional resonance and unforgettable characterizations that come from years in the UFC octagon. And if you’d like to see more UFC-inspired screen acting that makes the Stanislavski Method look like an afternoon tea party, check out Here Comes the Boom, starring Kevin James, opening on October 12th.
In the surprisingly-good sequel/reboot to the Universal Soldier franchise, action legends Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren are reunited in a stripped-down science fiction thriller that doesn’t have any of the goofy comic relief of previous installments. And you might guess that Andrei Arlovksi, the UFC fighter who has to share the screen with those two titans, would be crowded out. But you’d be wrong – Arlovski’s turn as the NGU definitely holds its own against Van Damme and Lundgren.
Of all the UFC fighters to pass through motion picture history, Randy Couture is probably the one who’s made the biggest mark. He’s one of The Expendables, after all – and he got to come back in the sequel earlier this year. And although Couture doesn’t exactly light the screen on fire as demolitions expert Toll Road when compared to his (much more experienced) partners like Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, and company, he’s still better than Liam Hemsworth.
There are few 1980s TV actors as iconic as Mr. T who played B. A. Baracus on The A-Team. So it’s telling that the producers of the big-screen remake cast UFC superstar Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the part. And Jackson gets the chance to play a different Baracus from the one on the TV show. For much of the film, B.A. is an avowed pacifist! But don’t worry, he starts beating people up in due time.
Jason Statham stars in the batshit-insane sequel to his cult hit Crank, and he’s not wanting for company. Some of the celebrity guest stars to make cameos in High Voltage are porn star Ron Jeremy, Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, Tool’s Maynard James Keenan, and UFC fighter Keith Jardine. Jardine may not be the most entertaining part of the movie, but his unexpectedly innocuous walk-in as a passerby should be pretty amusing to UFC fans.
If cameo appearances from UFC fighters are your bag, then Cradle 2 the Grave probably occupies a place of pride in your DVD collection. In an extended sequence involving underground cage fighting, several UFC fighters play the cage girls – just kidding. They play the cage fighters. Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, and future Expendables star Randy Couture all make appearances, as well as kickboxer Héctor Echavarría. Hooray, fighting!