There was a moment when I was watching Rampage when I thought to myself, “Is this really happening? Is retired MMA fighter Urijah Faber … really rocking fake tattoos, a faux-hawk, and one line of dialogue as a mercenary hired to capture a genetically modified 30-foot wolf?”
hello, it's me, the only human being who noticed & cared that urijah faber was in #RampageMovie. aside from I guess his teammates at alpha male and his family and his friends. so maybe … I am the only iranian-american pop culture writer named roxana hadadi who noticed. #rampage— Roxana (DO NOT SING 'ROXANNE' TO ME) Hadadi (@roxana_hadadi) April 13, 2018
Yes. It was really happening. His one line of dialogue: “How we playing this?” He then gets eaten by the aforementioned genetically modified 30-foot wolf.
Rampage is kind of a mess, and please read TK’s review for more on that. But I wanted to see more of Faber in it! He’s a legendary fighter and a former champ in World Extreme Cagefighting before the promotion merged with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), in which he was a perennial favorite; he’s charming as hell; he’s real cute; and I kind of don’t know why you cast a mixed martial artist in a film in which they don’t then do mixed martial arts? It’s weird!
Faber is the latest in a pretty steady stream of MMA fighters being cast in mainstream, fairly notable films, but I do think he’s the only one I’ve seen not actually fight, or at least be fight-adjacent. Observe:
MMA fighter, kickboxer, and professional wrestler Bas Rutten had a somewhat sizable supporting role as Kevin James’s MMA coach in Here Comes the Boom, in which James dates Salma Hayek, because Hollywood.
Similarly, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell played himself in Kick-Ass 2, in which he trained Christopher Mintz-Plasse in his quest to kill Kick-Ass as the villain the Motherfucker:
Former UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping was one of xXx’s team members in last year’s Return of Xander Cage, actually replacing known UFC asshole Conor McGregor in the role:
The arguable UFC GOAT, Georges St-Pierre, played the mercenary Batroc, who holds his own quite well against Cap, in The Winter Soldier (still one of my favorite Avengers-related fight scenes):
UFC commentator Joe Rogan and former UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Serra (who took the belt from St-Pierre in 2007, but then lost it to him in a rematch the next year) both appeared in Netflix’s Bright; Netflix invested quite obviously in promoting Bright during UFC events, which also led to this really cringeworthy spot:
And finally, Gina Carano, the one Henry Cavill let get away, not only fought Michelle Rodriguez first in Fast and Furious 6, but also appeared in Deadpool and starred in Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, probably still to this date the most high-profile acting gig for an MMA fighter and I don’t care what anyone says, a movie that is actually fucking great.
It’s perfect. Cavill and his hot-as-hell mustache paired with Gina Carano’s murderous thighs? WHY DID THIS RELATIONSHIP NOT WORK?
This question will plague me forever. Almost as much as why you cast former fighter Urijah Faber in your movie, and then don’t let him fight.
[Header image courtesy of Getty]