A growing trend in Hollywood has set some movie lovers to DEFCON 2 and there is no sign of slowing. The blame can be spread in a number of directions, but this onslaught of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters getting lead gigs as actors in big-budget movies is a bit disconcerting.

So far, we have yet to see any truly worthy fighters-turned-actors in these career crossovers. I’m not asking for Oscar-winning performances, but can we at least pretend like we care about our audiences? There are plenty of people out there who simply won’t go to a movie because it is starring some MMA superstar – and who knows, maybe it was a film that deserved an experienced actor in the role.

I understand the appeal: There are fan bases already in place and putting fighters in films should guarantee a certain audience. But is that really enough to warrant a theatrical release these days? It’s not like they break the bank by appealing to a niche audience or demographic. After all, it’s one thing to hire the men of ring entertainment for direct-to-DVD action flicks like Never Surrender or The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior – but when you look at performances like Cung Le in Pandorum or Randy Couture in Redbelt, it becomes embarrassing.

This year, the presence of MMA fighters in movies will be unprecedented. Gina Carano is starring in the Steven Soderbergh-directed Knockout, Quentin ‘Rampage’ Jackson will be a lead character in the upcoming A-Team remake, and Randy Couture will appear in The Expendables. There’s also the recent casting of Bob Sapp in Conan, which is coming in 2011.

The only real hope of the bunch is Carano, considering her director already worked with “non-actor” porn star Sasha Grey on The Girlfriend Experience and got an adequate enough performance out of her. Despite the slim prospects, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for the MMA fighters.

However, you can’t only look in one corner of the bathroom to find the smell. You have look to where it all began and that’s the world of professional wrestling.

Continue to wrestlers on film…

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