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Fox Sports' Jay Glazer Continues Mixed Martial Arts Initiative With NFL Players

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And he wants to work with Julius Peppers (or whoever else can popularize and further monetize his operation):

The Fox Sports NFL insider who doubles as a mixed martial arts trainer for dozens of professional football players arrived at Bears training camp Tuesday night and said he's interested in doing some work with Peppers in the octagon. So far, Peppers has passed, but Glazer's business with UFC veteran Randy Couture is taking off. The two combined to work with 42 NFL players this offseason, a number they expect to grow next year.

Glazer and Couture, who formed MMAthletics, worked with the Atlanta Falcons and St. Louis Rams and many players from other clubs, including Green Bay's Ryan Grant and Clay Matthews and Minnesota's Jared Allen. They also worked with Arizona quarterback Matt Leinart.

The idea behind the training is it will make the players more explosive while also ensuring they are in top shape.

"When Ryan first came to us, one of his hips was really closed compared to the other one," Glazer said. "He did a ton of work for opening up that hip, a lot of knees and kicks to strengthen his quads and what not, to fire off those legs a lot stronger and loosen up the hips a lot.

"But for a guy like Clay, we did a ton of wrestling and hand-fighting. We did a lot of body-on-body work. You really understand how the human body works with leverage. His hands are flying right now and really, really violent. That's the other thing, too, as much as anything, we try to get these guys to think like a fighter, to have a violent mentality. We tell our guys all the time, 'Own your space.' It's about imposing your will on another man. When the game starts, picture that cage door shutting. Now, you own your space. It translates."

Glazer and Couture are arguably providing training and instruction that is of benefit to NFL players, although I can't help but detect a whiff of opportunism here around a form of training that isn't exactly necessary. Value add? Sure. Important for success? Maybe, maybe not.

What's more important is how MMA is using the real, rigorous training at the highest levels to further it's credibility on the NFL name. Even Glazer and Couture would tell you that this isn't an attempt at mass-produced fitness a la UFC Gym. This is by the elite, for the elite. But in terms of attracting the skeptical or insouciant sports fan, any high caliber NFL athlete who offers testimonials of greatness around the Glazer/Couture operation (or MMA training generally) can do quite a lot.

We live in age of referrals and social interaction. The recommendations and testimony of friends matter. To the extent it can be produced beyond Glazer hawking his own product, groups of well-known NFL swearing by, embracing and enthusiastically vouching for the beneficial challenges of MMA can have a profound effect. I hear it quite regularly at 106.7 The Fan. When trying to justify the caliber of athletes, NCAA wrestling credentials matter far more than knockouts of opponents sports fans have never heard of. The trick for Glazer and Couture is to expand their operations: take their training out of the shadows of private facilities and into the sports fans' consciousness. They've obviously made huge strides, but have yet to have that breakthrough moment. I tend to think they're on the right track. I'm just waiting for the big fish to be caught.