While both the UFC and MMA are gaining popularity, a different set of skills is required from those who prefer to battle it out on the felt tables of the poker rooms. Lets look at some MMA stars who will have you thinking twice before you say "Hit me".
At first glance, many observers would not see a direct
connection between the aggressive, brutal world of mixed martial arts (MMA) and
the staid, quiet arena of professional poker. However, both MMA and poker
experienced simultaneous rises in their mainstream popularity during the early
to mid-2000s. Many of the major MMA fight events, as well as all of the most
prestigious poker tournaments, take place in Las Vegas. Until last year’s Black
Friday, online poker sites regularly sponsored some UFC fight cards. Some of
the stars of the cage have taken their talents to the green felt.
Current UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre is
recovering from a training injury and will not fight for the rest of this year,
but that doesn’t mean he won’t be competing this summer. St-Pierre, a native of
Montreal, Canada, has signed an endorsement deal with online poker site 888
Poker. Not only will St-Pierre be featured in print ads and TV commercials for
the site, he will also play in this summer’s World Series of Poker, as well as
other major poker events.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Randy “The Natural” Couture
has transitioned his energy and enthusiasm from training and fighting to
betting and raising. Couture was one of the organizers of an annual charity
poker tournament that benefited injured veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and
Iraq. The event brought out the biggest names in poker and MMA, as well as
other stars of sports and entertainment.
UFC veteran Mike “Quick” Swick earned his nickname for his
sudden victories, with five of his seven knockout wins coming in under a
minute. Although he ends his fights decisively, Swick has also shown the
patience and skill to succeed at the poker table. He was once a fixture in
online cash games and tournaments on the now-defunct site Full Tilt Poker. He
also has a cash finish at the World Series of Poker on his resume: he finished
10th (one spot shy of the final table) out of a field of over 2,500 players at
a $1,500 buy-in no-limit Texas Hold’em tournament in 2010.
While the legendary Johnny Chan made history at the poker
table by winning two WSOP Main Event titles, a younger Chan has bridged the gap
between poker and MMA. Terrence Chan, a
31-year-old limit hold’em player, won his first MMA fight at the Legend
Fighting Championship event in Hong Kong in March 2012. Chan defeated Muay Thai
specialist Alex Lee with a Round 2 submission.
The enthusiasm for poker in the MMA - UFC community does not stop
with the fighters. UFC ring announcer and “Voice of the Octagon” Bruce Buffer
has been a fixture at the World Series of Poker, where he made the money in the
2010 Main Event. Buffer was featured in poker author Phil Gordon’s instructional
DVD “Final Table Poker” as an overconfident antagonist to the mild-mannered
Tournament poker has given former and current UFC champions the
opportunity to match their mental toughness against the best players in the
game. Even after they leave the cage for the last time, these gladiators will
continue to feed that need for competition by playing on the biggest stages in