NFL Players Crossing over into MMA: How Do They Stack Up?

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NFL Players Crossing over into MMA: How Do They Stack Up?
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

There is no sport quite like MMA. To be successful, a combatant must possess a unique combination of speed, power, agility and technique. Many MMA fighters have spent their entire lifetimes perfecting their trade and the results are often awesome and incredible. 

Over the years, athletes from other sports have tried to cross over to MMA. Everyone remembers boxing superstar James Toney tapping out to the savvy veteran Randy Couture at UFC 118. It showcased two stars from fighting sports colliding and putting supremacy to the test.

Along with boxers, it has become well publicized when professionals from other sports try their hands at MMA. Some come in with martial arts backgrounds, while others believe they can win with sheer power and brute force. The results have, of course, been mixed.

The sport that boasts the biggest and baddest of all athletes is professional football. A hulking linebacker or offensive tackle can certainly present an intimidating picture. How have football players turned MMA wanna-bes fared in the octagon though?

Many have tried to cross over by fighting in small promotions against mid-level completion. Others have tried to step up quickly against top tier talent. The results are not always promising. Take for example Johnnie Morton, who was a wide receiver for the Lions, Chiefs and 49ers of the NFL.

After a successful football career, he thought his athletic prowess would translate into MMA conquest. As a result he suffered a brutal 38-second knockout at the hands of Bernard Ackah in 2007. Have other football players fared better?

Below is a list of six former professional gridironers who have stepped up to the challenge. Notably left off the list is Brock Lesnar, who became UFC Heavyweight Champion after a brief stint on the pre-season squad of the Minnesota Vikings.

Football wasn’t Lesnar’s primary calling, as he was a wrestling star prior to that endeavor. Also left out are Redskin and Bengal wide receiver Michael Westbrook, who boasts a 1-1 professional record with one no contest and long-time NFL alumni Alonzo Spellman who won a sole matchup in MMA.

The following list is the top six football players who have competed in MMA at high levels of competition with successful results.

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