The National Football League, or NFL, is a popular American football league in North America. Millions of people watch the NFL every week. Each year, the league generates billions of dollars. Like MMA, NFL is a sport with intense rivalries. Fans of the NFL and MMA share a similar devotion to their respective teams.
It is rare to see a clash between American Football (American Football) and Mixed Martial Arts. Both sports demand a strict discipline and a different kind of training. Violence is a problem in the NFL. The NFL has penalized players like Antonio Brown for attacking other players. Violence is encouraged and accepted in MMA. Despite the differences, a few popular MMA fighters were NFL players before they entered the fighting world.
Here are five NFL players who have fought in MMA.
Herschel Walker, a former NFL player is well known in the league. Walker was a running back for the Dallas Cowboys, and he quickly became known as a fierce player. He had previously played for Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles. Herschel Walker is often cited as a good example of a sportsman who successfully transferred from one sport into another. He was a sixth-degree Taekwondo black belt before he switched to MMA. Celebrities such as Joe Rogan have praised Walker’s switch.
Walker’s mixed martial arts career was a success. Walker, 47 years old at the time, decided to take part in MMA competitions. Former footballer Walker took part in Strikeforce – a fighting organisation. For his MMA debut, he fought Greg Nagy, a rookie. Walker was victorious after his debut. He won via TKO. The 47-year old entered his second fight as a heavyweight against Scott Carson. In the fight, his takedown attempts against Carson were impressive. Walker won the fight by TKO.
Greg Hardy has had a distinguished career as a former professional footballer. He has participated in MMA and professional boxing tournaments. Hardy became famous because of his NFL career. Hardy played for both the Dallas Cowboys and the Carolina Panthers. Greg Hardy has also been arrested for domestic violence. He was suspended from the NFL for ten matches. He quickly rose from amateur football, where he had two wins and zero losses.
In 2019, he made his UFC debut in UFC Fight Night Cejudo vs. Dillashaw. Hardy was disqualified for hitting Allen Crowder on the knee with his leg while he lay on the floor. In his second fight, Hardy won against Dmitry Smolyakov. It was the beginning of his UFC career. The fighter has a 7-5 record after a successful UFC career. Since then, Hardy hasn’t re-signed for the UFC.
Matt Mitrione is another fighter who has successfully made the transition from American Football to MMA. He only had a short NFL career. He was forced to stop playing football after suffering severe foot injuries. Matt underwent seven surgeries due to his injuries. He is best known in the NFL for his brief stints with both the Minnesota Vikings and the San Francisco 49ers. Matt has made a successful move into mixed martial art.
He participated in “The Ultimate Fighter” and the UFC. He had a successful debut and went on to defeat MMA legend Kimbo Cut via TKO. The fighter went on to knockout several of his rivals and establish himself as a combat sports star. He suffered his first loss against Chieck Kongo via unanimous decision. He had multiple fights pulled out. He was terminated from his contract with the UFC after he made derogatory comments against transgender competitor Fallon Fox.
Brendan Schaub , a popular podcaster and stand-up comic, had a short career in the NFL. Schaub went to the University of Colorado in order to pursue a full-time career in football. Schaub was not drafted by the NFL in 2006. The Buffalo Bills’ practice squad signed the comedian-turned-fighter. Brendan switched to mixed martial arts after a failed football career. The ‘Big Brown’ competed in the heavyweight category.
Brendan Schaub was a competitor in The Ultimate Fighter, and became well-known amongst fight fans. He was then a heavyweight contender in the UFC and found immediate success. The fighter beat Chase Gormley and Chris Tuchscherer. He also defeated Gabriel Gonzaga. Brendan was at his peak when he defeated MMA legend Mirko cro Cop by TKO. After a few poor performances and a crushing loss to Travis Browne in MMA, Schaub retired from the sport. He is now a popular podcaster and comedian.
Brock Lesnar, arguably the most popular fighter in this list is a household word in MMA. Lesnar chose to become a footballer after his WrestleMania match in 2004. Brock Lesnar, unlike most football players, did not play in college. Name value gave him a great advantage in the NFL. Lesnar, the WWE star, was a success at NFL Combine. Lesnar had to give up his NFL dream due to injuries.
Brock Lesnar’s move to the UFC has been the most successful endeavor for the former WWE superstar. He continued to compete in the heavyweight division despite losing his debut. Brock slowly but surely became one of the most feared fighters in his division. He has beaten legendary fighters such as Randy Couture and Frank Mir. Lesnar only lasted a few months with the UFC. Lesnar’s legacy in mixed-martial arts cemented his place as a key player in the world of combat sports.