By CagePotato contributor, Jason Moles
(Garth DeFelice could have been a contender if it weren’t for that bum hip.)
Imagine for a moment that it’s a hot July morning. You wake up in your McMansion located in a gated community or on a private road. You step into a bathroom, which appears to have been transplanted from a magazine, and take a shower. After you’re dressed, it’s time to have a modest breakfast consisting of no less than four eggs, three slices of bacon, three sausage links, a stack of hotcakes so scrumptious Paul Bunyan would be jealous, and all the freshly squeezed orange juice a man could want. Once you’ve had your fill, you hop in your Lamborghini and head to work… at BestBuy, or maybe it’s Staples. Oops, almost forgot; you went to college so you may have landed a comfortable desk job.
Yes sir, instead of heading to two-a-days at the stadium preparing for the upcoming season on the gridiron, you’re playing the role of the stiff with a 9-5’er to make ends meet. Hey man, it is after all “straight cash, homey” and every hour worked in that inglorious soul-crusher known as work is another chance to elude the repo man.
Do you know who you are? You are an American football player who used to play in the NFL. Since the lockout, things just haven’t been the same. We know it’s all about the Benjamins and all (unless your name is Herschel Walker), so here are a few, possibly former NFL players who might actually have a chance in MMA, unlike Jonnie Morton.
Matt Roth lettered three times in wrestling back in the day and has an outstanding record of 31-0. As an Iowa State Champion and All-American football player, Roth is used to the physical toll long training camps take on your body. Give this guy a year or two at Jackson’s or AKA and you may just be surprised that this dude can do more than just wrestle.
After undoubtedly being picked on in school for being huge and being named Kelly, Gregg found out a way to release his anger: wrestling. This behemoth wrestled his way to becoming the Oklahoma heavyweight champion three years straight from 199 to 1995. Sure, the Super Bowl XXXV champion would need to get on that Dolce Diet or get GSP to hook him up with “Rush Fit” to make weight, but that shouldn’t be an issue.
If he’s strapped for cash and doesn’t have time to sit in a sauna, he could always stop eating veggies for few months and get a life-threatening disease to lose the extra pounds before weigh-ins. Well, it worked for Brock Lesnar. What, too soon?
“Rowdy” Roddy White
Anyone who’s watched Sports Center in the past few years knows exactly who Roddy White is and what he’s capable of inside the 20. What you may not know, is that he is a two-time South Carolina state champ in wrestling. As a force to be reckoned with in the run-blocking game, White is comfortable fending off larger opponents. Take his wrestling background combined with the gas tank of an upper-echelon wide receiver and you’ve got half an MMA fighter. All he needs now are a few BJJ and boxing lessons and three months of sprawl training at the local UFC gym, right?
If you can’t tell already, there are a bunch of big fellas who can no longer make bank by strapping on a helmet and knocking a few skulls on the weekend. Stephen Neal can do that and so much more. This man went 151-10 as a four time All-American wrestler at the California State University, Bakersfield. He placed fourth his freshman year, second in his junior year, then went on to win two straight NCAA Division 1 Heavyweight titles, defeating former UFC champion Brock Lesnar in the process. In 1999, Neal won the Dan Hodge Award following a year in which he won the U.S. Freestyle Championship, the Pan-American Games title and the World Championship. The dude even won the FILA outstanding wrestler award, an honor given to the best wrestler in the world!
I am fully aware that, contrary to the majority of judges, you need more than superior wrestling prowess to succeed in MMA. However, Neal is a three-time Super Bowl winner whose experience and determination could get a few W’s in the cage.
Following in the footsteps of his father – who followed in the footsteps of his father – Clay Matthews is an outstanding football player who is not just another one-dimensional jock. Matthews is the recipient of the Butkus Award, a two-time Pro Bowler and was nominated the NFC Defensive Play of the Year in 2010. In his first two years as a pro, he racked up 23.5 sacks, an incredible feat in and of itself.
You: OK, we get it. He’s good at football, but what else can he do that makes you think he’d stand a chance against the big dogs in the UFC?
Me: He trains MMA with Jay Glazer at Xtreme Couture. ‘Nuff said.
Where should I start? Polamalu is a six-time Pro Bowler with two Super Bowl rings and was the 2010 Defensive Player of the Year. Essentially, he’s “Head and Shoulders” above the competition. You see what I just did there? Eat your heart out, Rex. What he lacks in empirical skills he more than makes up for in knowing how to lay you the f*ck out. Bjorn Rebney would be a fool not to sign Polamalu for an upcoming tournament spot. I personally guarantee he’ll do better than Matt Major did against Alexander Schlemenko last year.
This Old Spice guy has a Jake Shields-esque amount of trophies and championships. Urlacher once picked a fight with Bas Ruten. Not enough? He once single-handedly defeated four guys at once. For many of the same reasons listed for Polamalu, this Bear has what it takes to hold his own on and off the field.
Safety, Baltimore Ravens – 5’ 11”, 215 lbs.
The NFL’s most talented boxer has done want no MMA fighter has done, and that is fight in the famed Madison Square Garden in New York City. Zbikoswki is undefeated through his first three fights in the ring including a 49-second TKO in the first round, and is looking to continue his streak Saturday night against Blake Warner. Throwing leather in multiple weight classes, it’s likely that Tommy Z is looking to be a moneyweight fighter, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Highly esteemed trainer Orlando Cuellar, who is best known as the longtime trainer of former light heavyweight champion Glen Johnson, will be helping this Raven’s combat sport career take flight. Too bad Randy decided to call it quits or he could be the first MMA guy to fight an NFL-guy-turned-boxing-guy-turned-MMA-guy.
I may as well have just listed the entire Baltimore Raven’s 53-man roster and saved myself some time. It’s not hard to see why the Raven’s have had one of the best defenses in all of pro football for the past decade. Heading up the weekly attack is team captain Ray Lewis. Dana would love this guy because he’s the exact opposite of Kos and Fitch; he’s ready and willing to face a “real” teammate in Tommy Z (see above). Lewis may not have the experience that Zbikoswki has nor does he have a great trainer like him either, but that may not sway the odds makers because he’s been known to carry a blade.
If he can throw punches half as good as he can footballs, you’d be wise to give him a punchers chance in the cage. I mean come one look at the dude. If that doesn’t strike fear in your heart I don’t know what will. Ok, so maybe he doesn’t really stand a chance against anyone in MMA, at least not in the men’s division. It’s not that far of a stretch to think that Bill Belicheck’s superior game planning combined with Brady’s execution could actually equal wins.
Notable Mentions: Julius Peppers, Michael Westbrook, Jason Babin, Andre Johnson and Courtland Finnegan,