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Seven NFL players who turned to martial arts

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Members of the National Football League are some of the most athletic people in the world. They are strong, agile, and fast. Furthermore, they know how to push their bodies to the limits.

So, it isn’t a surprise that some of these individuals have done exceptionally well in other sports. Below, you’re going to learn about some of the top NFL players who have competed in martial arts.

Brock Lesnar

One of the all time greats. It does not matter who you ask, whether it be an amateur fighter or a professional martial artist everyone has heard of the name Brock Lesnar.

Ultimately, Brock Lesnar had the most success as an NFL player who went to martial arts. His professional record doesn’t look great but he achieved as much as possible.

He is well known not only for his greatness but also for his rise to fame. According to Smart MMA he started learning martial arts late in the game, his late 20’s, and had his first MMA fight in 2007 winning against Min Soo Kim. The UFC signed him the very next year.


During his time in the UFC, he not only dominated, but he won the title and beat top fights such as Frank Mir and Randy Couture.

Greg Hardy

First and foremost, you have one of the most controversial NFL players ever, Greg Hardy. His addition to the UFC was heavily criticized due to his domestic violence past. Nevertheless, Hardy has proven himself to be a decent martial artist. He isn’t near a title shot but he has beaten some tough guys. One thing is clear. Greg Hardy has taken his transition to the UFC very seriously.

The former member of the Carolina Panthers has worked hard to develop himself as a skilled MMA fighter and that is something that should be commended.

Herschel Walker

Herschel Walker is one of the first NFL players to embrace martial arts. At the ripe old age of 50, Walker made his MMA debut. While he wasn’t fighting the toughest opponents, he still dominated and proved to be a force. He won his first two fights via knockout and didn’t stop there.


Walker was easily one of the best parts of Strikeforce and his fights will never be forgotten.

Brendan Schaub

Brendan Schaub is another formed NFL player that transitioned to martial arts. While he never claimed a title, he had a lot of success in the UFC. He retired from the sport a few years ago but put together a record of 10 wins and 5 losses. During that time, he scored big wins over Mirko Cro Cop, Gabriel Gonzaga, and Matt Mitrione.

While he can’t be classified as a great fighter, he had some decent moments in the UFC and was a big part of The Ultimate Fighter thanks to his appearance during the 10th season.

Matt Mitrione

Matt Mitrione was a part of The Ultimate Fighter as well. Unfortunately, he turned himself into a nemesis during his time on the show. Matt was a defensive tackle when he played in the NFL but had to give up his career due to chronic foot injuries. Matt and Brendan appeared on the 10th season of TUF together.

Then, Matt went on to beat some big names including Derrick Lewis and Gabriel Gonzaga before moving to Bellator. Once there, he beat Fedor but lost to champion Ryan Bader.

Eryk Anders

Eryk Anders is another former football player who went to the UFC. This player was a member of the University of Alabama before joining the Cleveland Browns. At 33-years-old, Ya Boi has won 13 MMA bouts with many coming in the UFC. However, he has experienced some trouble along the way too. For instance, he lost three in a row between September of 2018 and the end of April of 2019.

He last fought in May of 2020 and lost a decision to Krzysztof Jotko.

Wes Shivers

Finally, you have Wesley David Shivers who was a part of the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights. As an NFL player, Shivers spent time with the Atlanta Falcons and the Tennessee Titans. As an MMA fighter, he won 8 fights and lost 1. He also lost to James McSweeney on TUF.

He last fought in November of 2010 and knocked out Goldman Butler.

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