Not only are MMA stars incredibly fit and tactically-gifted, but they thrive on defeating opponents. Therefore, the skills that help them in the cage often see them excel in other sports.
Being an MMA champion is about more than just the moves.You need to be able to keep your cool, work out your opponent’s weaknesses and know when it’s time to take a risk. No wonder MMA stars are partial to a spot of poker every now and then. Today, we’re taking a look at MMA fighters who have taken their skills to the poker table, and even competed in competitions like the highly-prestigious World Series of Poker.
Martin Kampmann, or Hitman, as he’s better known in MMA circles has tried his hand at many sports over the course of his impressive career. At eight years old he took up wrestling. At 14, he mastered karate. Next were Muay Thai and boxing, followed by submission wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, before he turned pro in MMA in 2003. No one could have predicted that his next move would have been taking up poker. We’d hazard a guess that his close friendship with Jason Somerville, poker pro and MMA enthusiast definitely had something to do with it! Since taking up poker, Kampmann has won big online and in live events, including the World Series of Poker Main Event and the Nevada Poker Challenge.
Light heavyweight world champion and UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz decided to tackle the poker world post retiring from MMA. And, let me tell you, he aint too shabby! Ortiz dipped his toe into the game online, honing his skills before taking on big name players in impressive live events, including PokerStars Championship Panama. He’s got a way to go before he equals his success in the ring, but with his best live cash totalling $16,080, he’s certainly putting up a fight.
Siyar ‘The Great’ Bahadurzada
A couple of years back, legendary fighter Alistair Overeem posted a clip to his Twitter account showing him and his mates…which include the mighty Bahadurzada, playing poker. In the clip, Bahadurzada describes poker as one of his favourite ways to relax and unwind, especially after a strenuous training camp. He compares poker to fighting, and highlights that both sports require strategic thinking and the ability to intimidate an opponent, but that bluffing added a whole new element that he is still getting used to. Knowing this guy’s sporting prowess and killer instinct, surely it’s only a matter of time before we see him in Las Vegas, taking on the biggest names in poker!