ByAmy Kaplan, writer at
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Amy Kaplan

Kickboxer Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez has announced that she will make her pro MMA debut next month when she faces Sheila Padilla at 165.

Shortly after the announcement, legendary , John Wayne Parr announced he had signed with Bellator under their kickboxing banner. Could he perhaps be the next fighter to transition into MMA?

Melendez is no stranger to Bellator, as she has fought on two previous cards under the Bellator Kickboxing banner. She currently holds a 4-1 kickboxing record, and is notably married to UFC lightweight, .

Parr is an established kickboxer and boxer. He intended to audition for the Australia vs. Canada season of , but was rejected due to his lack of MMA experience.

Transitioning from established or kickboxing careers into MMA is common, as we've seen in multiple cases.

Joe Shilling transitioned to MMA in 2008 after being considered one of the greatest kickboxers at the time. His MMA career hasn't gone as great as he was hoping for, but he did get a highlight reel KO over Melvin Manhoef at Bellator 131. Now, he transitions between MMA and kickboxing with Bellator exclusively.

Another recent fighter to make the MMA crossover was Tiffany van Soest, who is considered one of the greatest female Muay Thai fighter's in the sport. She left Lion Fights after having to put her championship belt up for sale, claiming the promotion never paid her. She later announced that the organization paid her following her claim. Van Soest signed with Glory Kickboxing and Invicta, making her pro MMA debut this past September.

UFC's Stephen Thompson is another example of a kickboxer-turned MMA fighter. He went undefeated through 37 amateur and 20 professional kickboxing matches, with 28 wins by KO before debuting in MMA in 2010. He is currently ranked second in the UFC welterweight rankings, and has a 13-1 professional MMA record. Thompson notably fought in ' World Combat League.

Other notable kickboxer-turned MMA fighters include Joanna Jędrzejczyk, Felice Herrig, Melvin Manhoef, Mark Hunt and Kevin Rosier.

Who are your favorite kickboxers turned MMA fighters?


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