Alright, lets not fool ourselves. There aren't going to be legions of NFL players who are going to up and leave their multi-million dollar contracts in the wake of this lockout, and start a new career in MMA.
In the wake of this lockout, numerous Athletes are left with a burning desire to compete, train, stay in shape and everything else that goes hand in hand with sports.
A couple of weeks ago, there was an video up on NFL.com about Jay Glazer and Randy Couture working, and training multiple NFL stars (Clay Matthews III, Jared Allen, Marcedes Lewis, Kirk Morrison). Which just goes to show that athletes, especially athletes who are used to a sport that is physically on par with MMA, are drawn to the sport.
Yea...great....whatever... Athletes cross training? Big deal....
But for the first time this year, we have athletes who went further then just training, but actually competed...in boxing.
I know, I know...boxing isn't MMA. But its a start.
First Tom Zbikowski fought 3 times..winning all 3 times. But this is nothing new. Zbikowski made his professional boxing debut while still in College at Notre Dame.
Which is all still well and good. But still not that big of a deal. He's been boxing all of his life, and if he had the insta-cash that you get in the NFL, he probably would have chose boxing instead of the NFL...
But the real news is Ray Edwards. Ray Edwards is a mid-level defensive end in the NFL..nothing spectacular, but good enough to have a consistent contract. Ray Edwards has never boxed before. But with the lockout looming he decided it was time to earn some income in another manner. He decided to take up boxing.
And box he did.
Edwards earned a UD in what was considered an UGLY fight. But that doesn't matter. What matters is that a young (26 year old) elite athlete decided that while the NFL is great, maybe a combat sport is another option.
And, no, there weren't thousand of fans watching. It wasn't on PPV. He didn't earn 6 figures for the fight. But he won...and he says he wants to box again.
Can you imagine if collegiate football players, who live and breath training for 4 years, decide that, since they didn't get drafted or signed, they are going to make the transition to MMA? That excites me... Think Matt Mitrione...except at 26, instead of 32.
Think of the possibilities:
- Ray Lewis - Lewis was the 1993 Florida State 4A champion at 189 lbs...
- Stephen Neal - 4x's All American (beating Brock Lesnar), 2x's HW champion
- Cory Schlesinger - the 189-pound wrestling state championship twice during his prep career