Although Matt Mitrione proved that former NFL players can make the transition to MMA, it is going to be quite difficult to succeed at a high level if one does not focus completely on training. I'm not counting Herschel Walker because he's retired, only 2-0 and both of his opponents were hand-picked for him.
Tom Zbikowski, on the other hand, does have actual boxing experience, but that still doesn't mean he should make the transition to MMA.
No one wants to see these players get injured and their lack of fighting experience will all but ensure that they do. As Marcus "Big Baby" Jones showed, just because someone is athletic and strong doesn't mean they can take a punch.
Jay Glazer of MMAthletics has been training Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing. Fox Sports reports that "when he went back to the Texans' OTA practices, he called and said he couldn't believe how easy it was. He was the only guy not huffing and puffing."
MMA training is great for conditioning and core strength, but let's hope Cushing, who is just 24, sticks with an NFL career.
At 6'3", 260 pounds, Cushing would have to be taking on the heavyweights of the MMA world.
A bout with Anderson Silva would definitely sell quite a few pay-per-views, but do you see the things Silva does to professional fighters? Now imagine someone who isn't trained. Ochocinco may irritate a lot of people, but I don't think he deserves to get knocked out for it.
Most recently, Ochocinco signed a deal with Tapout. Being sponsored by an MMA-related clothing brand is about as far into the sport as he should get.
At 6'1", 192 pounds, Ochocinco would be best suited for the middleweight division.
The Atlanta Falcons are one of the first teams in the NFL to offer MMA training to their players and middle linebacker Curtis Lofton has been fully embracing it.
According to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports:
The Falcons have become the NFL’s first franchise to begin a team-sponsored MMA program for its players. The sessions are run by MMAthletics, a company formed by FOX Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer and Ultimate Fighting Championship star Randy Couture.
At 6'0", 242 pounds, Lofton is similar in size to current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. Let's hope he never has to fight him though.
Tom Zbikowski, safety for the Baltimore Ravens, has managed to put together a 4-0 boxing record. While his first fight was back in 2006, before he debuted in the NFL, he's successfully fought three times in 2011 after the end of the NFL season.
He's finished three of his fights by knockout. However, none of his opponents were particularly well known or difficult. Zbikowki's last opponent, Blake Warner, is just 1-3 in his boxing career.
Zbikowski is on the path to a successful NFL career. Perhaps he can manage to continue boxing, but mixed martial arts is an entirely different story. Boxing is such a small part of MMA and it's easy to see how unsuccessful one-dimensional fighters are. For Zbikowski to add the proper grappling abilities to his arsenal will take quite a while and likely hinder his growth in football and boxing.
At 5'11", 196 pounds, Zbikowski could make a fairly easy cut to 185 pounds and compete in the middleweight division.
Despite being an All-American wrestler in high school, Ray Lewis is 36 years old and has likely forgotten just about any grappling technique he once had.
There were rumors floating around for a while that he was looking to sign a deal with UFC, but fortunately enough, nothing has come of it.
After 15 successful seasons in the NFL, including 12 Pro Bowl selections and a Super Bowl MVP under his belt, Lewis has nothing to gain by going into MMA other than more injuries.
At this point, he's way past his physical prime and his body has taken a lot of damage. It's unlikely he'll be capable of taking the leg kicks or punches to the face that NFL players obviously don't have to deal with on a daily basis.