Many in the pro-fighting world clutched their heads recently, as pop poodle Justin Bieber, decided, out of the blue, to challenge “Mission: Impossible” action hero Tom Cruise to a cage fight. No one quite knows why this happened or what Bieber hoped to gain from it. Certainly, neither of them needs the money or a boost to their career, with Bieber recently topping the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, and Cruise about to take off with a brand-new “Top Gun” adventure later this year. Bieber has since backed down, claiming that the challenge was a joke sent while bored, but UFC president Dana White has not it go, claiming he has real backers for the fight.
Celebrity fights are nothing new and have brought new audiences to fighting sports for many years. These fights may not hold much interest for the real fans, but they attract a lot of interest, and backing, from casual fans, with bookmakers queuing up to attract their business with a range of free bet offers on sites like on Oddschecker. Wrestling has recruited everyone from Muhammad Ali to Mr. T to boost their reach down the years. WrestleMania II Battle Royal turned to the services of NFL stars such as William “Refrigerator” Perry to try and bring new fans across from football. The WWE has even opened a “celebrity wing” of its Hall of Fame, with inductees that include Kid Rock, who proved at WrestleMania 25 that while he may have a great wrestling name, that’s pretty much where his talent for the sport ends.
The promotional power of celebrity crossovers now spreads beyond wrestling to include the serious no-holds-barred world of UFC. Many are less than comfortable with this, but one of the biggest UFC stars of all time, Georges St-Pierre, says it is inevitable. “The world is changing,” he told a recent press conference, “and we have to change with it.”
Wrestling isn’t the only ring sport that has turned to celebrities to boost ratings. The boxing ring is a regular hangout for a host of big names, although generally, these bouts have involved celebrities fighting each other rather than being pummeled by the pros. Fox had its own show, Celebrity Boxing, which included a whole host of fading stars, keen to either revitalize their career or perhaps pay their mortgage. From white rapper Vanilla Ice to disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding, the program scraped the bottom of the barrel in its search for ratings.
Celebrity Street Fights
Of course, some celebrities don’t need a boxing or wrestling ring to start a fight. Some barely even need a reason. They will happily fight between themselves, such as Axl Rose’s slapping session with none other than designer Tommy Hilfiger while others, such as actors Lindsay Lohan and Shia LaBeouf as well as Icelandic singer Björk as happy to lash out at anyone in their vicinity.
Perhaps the strangest celebrity fight of them all happened between the two men you’d least expect to turn to their fists rather than their wits to solve a dispute. Although both went on to international fame and fortune, Bill Murray and Chevy Chase were fiercely competitive in their early careers on “Saturday Night Live.” It boiled over one night when Murray called Chase a “medium talent,” and the two went at it with gusto until separated by fellow cast members.
Cruise vs. Bieber?
So, what can we expect from a Cruise vs. Bieber match-up? On the one hand, Bieber is less than half the age of the movie star at just 25 to Cruise’s 56. Still, at the same time, Cruise has proved time and time again in his “Mission: Impossible” movies that he is hard as nails, doing most of his own stunts and even breaking his ankle in the process on the last installment. With Bieber, by his own admission, “really skinny right now,” this could be quite a one-sided affair, leading to his loss in a matter of minutes!