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NFL now, UFC later for Stephen Neal?

Stephen Neal, the New England Patriots guard who is about to become an unrestricted free agent, is not retiring. But he is thinking about what he might do after he finishes his NFL career — and that might include mixed martial arts.

Neal’s agent, Neil Cornrich, told Tom E. Curran of CSNNE.com that Neal, a former NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion, would be interested in signing with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

“He’s excited to continue in the NFL and perhaps after that take a chance at the UFC,” said Cornrich. “Getting back involved in Olympic-style wrestling is definitely a consideration.”

Neal certainly has the athletic ability to make it in the UFC, and his background as an amateur wrestler gives him a major leg up, as many of the top UFC fighters were amateur wrestlers before they gave MMA a try.

As a senior at Cal State-Bakersfield, Neal (who did not play college football) actually won the NCAA title by defeating Minnesota’s Brock Lesnar, who is now the UFC heavyweight champion. Lesnar said in 2008 that he believed Neal could make it in MMA if he wanted to.

He could become something great,” Lesnar said. “If he ever tried [UFC] and could make weight, I’d have to say he could be a force to be reckoned with.”

Neal, who’s listed at 305 pounds, would have a bit of trouble getting down to the UFC’s heavyweight limit of 265 pounds, but with the proper strength and conditioning program he’d be able to do it. It’s probably not realistic to think he could be as successful as Lesnar, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t try when he’s done with football.

For now, though, football is Neal’s focus, and he hopes to sign a new contract with the Patriots.

“He’s been with the Patriots his entire career and would like nothing better than to finish his career with another Super Bowl win in New England,” Cornrich told Curran. “He’s very appreciative of the opportunity the Patriots have given him and how they helped him in his transformation from wrestler to professional football player.”

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26 Responses to “NFL now, UFC later for Stephen Neal?”
  1. Slow Joe says: Feb 18, 2010 7:44 PM

    The dude didn’t play college football and has made it in the NFL? How is it this is the first time I’ve heard this story?

  2. FinFan says: Feb 18, 2010 7:48 PM

    Is this the ‘new fad’?
    When I retire from web design I’m going UFC
    … ugh

  3. The Polish Rifle says: Feb 18, 2010 7:55 PM

    He could definitely do it & he would probably be pretty successful too. Wrestling is probably the most beneficial background to have if you’re trying to be a professional mixed martial artist. He has what it takes, but the only question is how much has football damaged his body. The weight cut probably wouldn’t be that big of a deal to him being a former wrestler. It obviously would take some getting used to by him, but he should be game.

  4. TheWizard says: Feb 18, 2010 8:08 PM

    The dude didn’t play college football and has made it in the NFL? How is it this is the first time I’ve heard this story?
    He was a project, I recall they brought him along slowly for a couple of years before he won a starting job.
    Many times those deals don’t work out, Neal ended up being a home run.

  5. HarrisonHits says: Feb 18, 2010 8:12 PM

    “Neal, who’s listed at 305 pounds, would have a bit of trouble getting down to the UFC’s heavyweight limit of 265 pounds, but with the proper strength and conditioning program he’d be able to do it. ”
    It would be good for the health of all former NFL linemen to go through a program to drop their weight while keeping in good shape.

  6. 8man says: Feb 18, 2010 8:17 PM

    Knew this a long time ago.
    Belichick doesn’t just look for guys who can play multiple positions, he’s fascinated with guys who have clear talent in multiple sports.
    The thing about wrestling is that it’s an incredibly demanding sport requiring a great deal of commitment. And since it’s an individual sport, there is always clear accountability. Ideal preparation for someone who wants to win a Super Bowl.
    And shows you the difference between someone who plays a sport and someone who is a true athlete.
    As much as I don’t like him, Tiger Woods is the same type of guy. An athlete. Great golfer and probably could have excelled at tennis or baseball if he’d wanted to. He’s parlayed that advantage into quite a career.
    Stephen Neal will have suitors. It may be difficult for the Patriots to keep him unless he simply decides that is just where he wants to be.

  7. jahrasta311 says: Feb 18, 2010 8:18 PM

    @ slow joe, Antonio Gates never played college football. It’s not unprecedented.

  8. favrecansuckit says: Feb 18, 2010 8:27 PM

    # Slow Joe says: February 18, 2010 7:44 PM
    The dude didn’t play college football and has made it in the NFL? How is it this is the first time I’ve heard this story?
    ——————————————————
    Because you obviously live up to your screen name

  9. Big M says: Feb 18, 2010 8:35 PM

    He could be as successful as Lesnar if he decides to take the same steroids.

  10. Muck says: Feb 18, 2010 8:43 PM

    As was mentioned above, we don’t know how much football will have damaged Neal’s body. But having that wrestling background and pedigree is quite beneficial. And his decade of offensive line play (hands, leverage, etc.) keeps many of those same skills sharp.
    I don’t think weight would be a problem. After re-hydration, he’d step into the octagon around 280 like Lesnar does. I think being a 34-35 year old rookie in the UFC would be a bigger one. Especially for a ‘max’ heavyweight.
    Will be something to keep an eye on.

  11. Pervy Harvin says: Feb 18, 2010 9:43 PM

    He should keep his day job. Then enjoy retirement. Coming from a person who has been in a cage and now trains fighters. He is most likely football damaged and way too far behind.

  12. Roger Goodell's a tool. says: Feb 18, 2010 11:17 PM

    Pervy Harvin = Douche
    it’s proven time after time.

  13. wilfork4food says: Feb 18, 2010 11:18 PM

    cool Pervy, thanks so much for your expert opinion.

  14. The Polish Rifle says: Feb 19, 2010 12:27 AM

    Gotta love the internet as anyone can be what they want to be without being seen for what they really are… which usually is the exact opposite of what they pretend to be on internet.
    My guess is Pervy is most likely a blend of the likes of John Clayton, Bernie Madoff, & Skip Bayless.
    Pervy,
    Nodoby likes an internet liar (especially a obnoxious one at that), so please post the gym you work at & list your name so I can check out your credentials as a fighter on a fighter database.

  15. bigbolt says: Feb 19, 2010 12:49 AM

    the UFC is a friggin juggernaut. Other than the NFL it’s the most exciting sport on television. I followed Neal at CSU Bakersfield. I hope he gives MMA a shot, even though his age clock is ticking…

  16. Adam says: Feb 19, 2010 2:44 AM

    shit, if brock says he could do it, he could it. would he be good? don’t know.

  17. steeelfann says: Feb 19, 2010 8:38 AM

    Big deal, Carlton Hasselrig did the same thing. Only he liked drinking too much and fighting the police.

  18. The Real Shuxion says: Feb 19, 2010 8:47 AM

    The Polish Rifle says:
    February 19, 2010 12:27 AM
    Gotta love the internet as anyone can be what they want to be without being seen for what they really are…
    ————————————————-
    Yeah like when I pretend I am some techie who lives in Missouri and has to use internet porn cause he can only get pity sex from his girlfriend once every 3 weeks at best and…..
    Oh wait……… :’(

  19. The Real Shuxion says: Feb 19, 2010 8:54 AM

    Pervy Harvin says:
    February 18, 2010 9:43 PM
    He should keep his day job. Then enjoy retirement. Coming from a person who has been in a cage
    ————————————————-
    Hey I was in a cage too, and had burning candle wax dripped on my back. Then was forced to eat her…… yeah I’m going too far with this S&M joke.

  20. PFTiswhatitis says: Feb 19, 2010 8:58 AM

    “FinFan says:
    February 18, 2010 7:48 PM
    Is this the ‘new fad’?
    When I retire from web design I’m going UFC
    … ugh”
    Umm maybe you ought to learn to read first. The guy was a wrestler before he played football so its really not that much of a reach.

  21. Flying elvis says: Feb 19, 2010 9:10 AM

    And then he can do movies. Some action hero movies and then maybe some kid type comedys.

  22. brasho says: Feb 19, 2010 11:19 AM

    Lke Muck says, he could get down to 285 then dehydrate the rest of the way to 265, it wouldn’t be a huge deal.

  23. rusH1023 says: Feb 19, 2010 1:41 PM

    FinFan says:
    Is this the ‘new fad’?
    When I retire from web design I’m going UFC
    … ugh
    ________________________________________
    We’re not talking about dramatic, spectacled, weakling designers here. Neal is a former wrestler, in case you missed it.
    You = Never going to be anything but a nerd.
    Neal = Athlete who could legitimately fight in UFC.

  24. bonecity7 says: Feb 19, 2010 6:33 PM

    As a neuro-surgeon who has won several Strongest Man championships, and was once the Leader of the Free World, I think Neal could do it!!

  25. Route36West says: Mar 5, 2010 10:27 PM

    He would probably be able to make it in MMA but I dont know about the UFC. The UFC is the top brand. He would more then likely have to fight his way through the other promotions before he got a shot at the UFC like everyone else.
    Not since the 80′s has a fighter had their first professional bout in the UFC. The quickest way to make it their is through The Ultimate Fighter tv show on Spike. After a couple of fights in the WEC, which is owned by the UFC, if he performs well(thats a big if) he might get his shot on TUF. They usually take guys with a few fights under their belt and let them fight their way to a contract with the UFC.
    If he wins the show or is a entertaining fighter he will get his chance in the UFC. From their who knows how good he does and how long he lasts.

  26. hoff5000 says: Mar 22, 2010 11:11 AM

    Route 36West,
    Neal could not fight in the WEC, they don’t have heavyweights.
    The UFC just signed James Toney, while he is a boxer, he has never had an MMA fight.
    By the way the current UFC heavywieght champ (Lesner) had only one MMA fight before fighting in the UFC.
    Other than that, great points.

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