The MMA Stars Who Cashed Out in Poker

In the world of sports, there are few arenas bigger than MMA right now.

With a near constant growth across the world over the past 10 years, it is a sport that went from catering to a niche audience in the 90s to mainstream appeal in the 2010s. MMA is practiced by professional fighters but also by people who want to keep in shape or get more confident in their bodies.

MMA requires a lot of different skills that can help people succeed in many aspects of life. Not just the physical traits that are needed for the sport, but also the planning, stamina, and dedication that the training instils in people who practice it. There are plenty of mental skills that must be honed to succeed in MMA. These are the same kind of traits that are needed to succeed in a very different but equally competitive arena; poker.

The two might seem completely different, but poker games can last for several hours or even days, requiring players to be mentally fit and sharp the entire time. That kind of mental stamina can be gained through intense training, like the kind that MMA fighters need to undergo. It also requires careful planning and strategy. Despite relying heavily on luck to deal the right cards, the very best poker players know that they can create their own luck by following a careful strategy, knowing the kinds of hands they want to chase and when they should push their opponents into making mistakes.

With so many similarities between the two sports, it is no surprise that there have been athletes that have crossed over between them. Here are a few big time MMA stars who have used the skills they gained in poker halls to succeed in the octagon.

Terrence Chan

Terrence Chan had no shortage of success as a poker player. His winnings from both live and online tournaments total more than $1 million, including multiple title bracelets. During this time, he had long been a fan of Muay Thai boxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Eventually, he traded the poker table for the octagon, a change that relied even more heavily on his ability to think quickly. After all, calculating poker odds is key to succeeding at the table, but being able to adjust strategies on the fly is even more important when you’ve got a roundhouse kick coming at your face. Recently, Chan has impressed around the poker table again, proving the skills are interchangeable; he earned almost $80,000 at event 16 in the 2021 World Series of Poker.

Lex Veldhuis and Bertrand Grospellier

Another pair of poker stars who have dabbled in MMA are Team Pokerstars rivals Lex Veldhuis and Bertrand Grospellier. The pair started talking about taking to the ring in an exhibition match back in 2009, using their shared background in MMA and kickboxing to make the leap. After several years of negotiations and delays due to injuries, the match finally happened in Spain. It lasted a total of four minutes before Veldhuis connected with a pair of kicks that sent his opponent to the mat. Though they are still very much on the amateur side of things in the ring, their fight was enough to get make some waves in both professions. No word on if they’ll consider making the leap to the ring a full time-thing.

Quinton Jackson

It isn’t just poker stars who are making the leap toward the ring. Plenty of MMA stars are looking to try their hand at professional poker as well, presumably to use their competitive spirit in an arena that requires fewer blows to the head. One such fighter is Quinton Jackson. Having been successful in MMA and professional wrestling, Jackson makes no secret of his love for poker. He has competed in several World Series of Poker events and even lobbies his fame to sell customized poker chips with his image and logo on them.

Whether you’re looking for the next trend with MMA or just want to keep up to date with the latest fight card, be sure to check out our blog regularly for updates.

Severe MMA Staff