It’s not uncommon for professional athletes to apply their competitive instincts to poker…particularly when they’re a little past their peak. We’ve seen basketballers win big, soccer stars seize victory, and golfers take home the big bucks. Today, we’re running through some MMA fighters who’ve applied their aggression in ring to online poker and the real-life poker table.
You may know Ortiz from the UFC Hall of Fame or from his time as light heavyweight world champion, but did you know he also flexes those muscles around the poker table? Since retiring from tearing people apart in the MMA ring in 2017, he’s taking on the poker world, and not doing too badly at all. Ortiz crafted his game online, and has competed in PokerStars Championship Panama. His total live earnings to date are $16,080…which was also his best live cash.
Danish-born, Martin Kampmann – or Hitman – as he’s known in MMA circles has mastered quite the repertoire of sports in his 36 years. His fighting career began at eight with wrestling, before progressing to karate at 14, and then Muay Thai and boxing. Next, the born-fighter moved on to submission wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu before turning professional in mixed martial arts in 2003. Two years before officially retiring from the ring in 2016, Kampmann began playing poker under the tutelage of poker pro and MMA aficionado, Jason Somerville. He’s since gone on to compete online and in live events, including the World Series of Poker Main Event and the Nevada Poker Challenge, where he won $52,000.
High-stakes cash poker player Terrence Chan is well on his way to achieving his dream of one day competing in the UFC. Despite training full-time in MMA, Chan also competes annually at the World Series of Poker, and has clocked up an impressive 30 cashes and $1 million in lifetime tournament earnings.
New Yorker, Olivier Busquet, is a man of many talents. In his 36 years, Busquet mastered chess, philosophy and life as a Wall Street trader before making the leap to online and live poker player. Between 2007 to 2014, Busquet has clocked up 21 WSOP cashes and made it to one final table. Since then, he’s made 16 final tables and secured first place in a number of international tournaments. Despite winning big, it seems Busquet wasn’t content to sit down at all times. While hardly a professional, back in 2016, Busquet made the leap to the MMA ring, taking down fellow poker player JC Alvarado in a six-figure brawl.