Top 4 NFL Players Who Switched to Mixed Martial Arts

Updated: Sep 14

Not just fans but experts also claim that the National Football League (NFL) produces some powerful and competent athletes. NFL is all about being strong, focused, and athletic. Hence, to no surprise, many NFL star players switched to Mixed Martial Arts for a fresh breath of air.


MMA is one of the most competent and unique combatant style sports. A combatant without the power, technique, and agility is nothing but a piece of mockery. Therefore, NFL players are best matched in this unique sport, raising above the expectations of their viewers.


Over the years, many NFL players enjoyed the cross over to MMA and became quite successful. They were famous in their NFL career and made a name in MMA as well. Some NFL players had a past background in martial arts, while others tried entering the sports with sheer will, force, and power.

Here are the top 4 NFL players who had the determination to combat MMA and proved their worth.


#1. Matt Mitrione


After finishing college, Mitrione signed a contract with New York Giants. Playing as a defensive NFL star, the career of Matt Mitrione was cut short due to continuous injuries.


Instead of giving up, Matt decided to join MMA and started training. Without any prior fighting records, Mitrione got selected for the TUF 10th season. After his first loss against James McSweeny, UFC offered a contract to him due to his passion.


With the nickname “Meathead”, fighting in Bellator MMA, Matt holds phenomenal victories against opponents such as Kimbo Slice, Fedor Emelianenko, Derrick Lewis, Roy Nelson, and Gabriel Gonzaga. Matt is known to knock out his opponent with a right-hand sharp jab. In April 2021, Matt Mitrione got ranked to ‘Number 8’ in the Bellator Heavyweight Rankings.


#2. Brendan Schaub


Unfortunately, Brendan Schaub never officially played for NFL. However, he was being trained under the contract with Buffalo Bills. Never getting a chance in the official sports, Schaub announced early retirement.

After retiring from football, Schaub started training in boxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Later he started training for MMA and entered the world of UFC through TUF competition in 2009. In the TUF fight, Schaub was able to win over all his opponents except in the finals where he lost against Roy Nelson.


This didn’t stop Brendan, and he kept winning against opponents such as Mirko Cro Cop, Chase Gormley, Gabriel Gonzaga, and Chris Tuchscherer. With the nickname “The Hybrid” and “Big Brown” Brendan Schaub announced retirement from MMA in 2015 with a phenomenal record of 10-5.


#3. Herschel Walker


One of the most successful NFL players who made his way to MMA was Herschel Walker. In 1982 Walker won Heisman Trophy. He was a runner back in the NFL, and in his 11 years, career played for four top NFL teams. In the 1992 Olympics, Walker also took part in bobsledding.


Walker had a short-lived but memorable MMA career. In 2009, MMA promotion company, Strikeforce announced that Herschel Walker would take part in the heavyweight division. With only 12 weeks of intensive training, Walker was ready to go in the ring.


He was the first champion who smashed professional MMA fighters in combat like a pro. Grey Nagy and Scott Carson were knocked out by Walker easily. He made a record of third and first-round knockout to both the opponents, respectively.


#4. Bob Sapp


Bob Sapp is another renowned name in the NFL. During his college time, Sapp won Morris Trophy. He was signed by Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings but got a chance to play only once in official NFL games on the guard position. Later he began his career in mixed martial arts and kickboxing, which brought him success overnight.


Popular with the nickname “The Beast”, Bob Sapp began his MMA career by signing a contract with World Championship Wrestling. Currently, Sapp is under the contract of the Rizin Fighting Federation. Bob Sapp mostly played in Japan and has been associated with MMA promotion companies such as Strikeforce, Pride, Dream, and K-1.


Sapp has a pro-MMA record of 12 wins and 20 losses with wins against opponents such as Yoshihisa Yamamoto, Kiyoshi Tamura, Alan Karaev, and Min Soo Kim. Bob Sapp is currently active in the world of MMA, making his name as a phenomenal fighter.


These NFL players made an inspiring career in MMA and fought like true heroes. Their names will always remain alive in the records of strong MMA fighters.

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