Two ex-NFL players to face off in the UFC tonight

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Mixed martial arts has become a popular part of the offseason training regimens of NFL players, and a few former players have even tried to become professional fighters. But tonight marks the first time that two former NFL players will square off in a high-profile Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-view.

As NFL players, Matt Mitrione and Brendan Schaub never got very far. Mitrione played nine regular-season games as a defensive lineman with the Giants, while Schaub’s career ended after a brief stint as a fullback on the Bills’ practice squad. More successful football players have become pro fighters (Herschel Walker has defeated a couple no-name opponents, while Johnnie Morton found out the hard way that MMA isn’t easy), but when Mitrione and Schaub face each other in the Octagon tonight, it will be the first time two former players have squared off in a high-profile fight. The winner of tonight’s fight will have a good case to call himself the most successful football-to-MMA crossover.

Being big, strong, and athletic enough to play in the NFL is obviously helpful to anyone wanting to pursue an MMA career, and tonight’s event also features UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who as an athlete looks like a skinnier version of his brothers, Ravens defensive lineman Arthur Jones and Patriots defensive lineman Chandler Jones. But Schaub told the Bills’ website that when moving from football to MMA, the mental approach to competition that he learned in football was what really helped him.

“I do the same type of preparation I did when I was playing football,” he said. “You break down tendencies, you watch fight film, you go over strengths and weaknesses. It’s no different than the NFL. Coming from football, I think it’s helped me. It’s given me advantages as more of a cerebral fighter.”

Schaub and Mitrione will both take that football experience with them into the Octagon.

30 responses to “Two ex-NFL players to face off in the UFC tonight

  1. Being big doesn’t matter. In football depending how a play unfolds you end up with size mismatches that are advantageous, such as 300 lb defensive tackle creaming a 190 lb quarterback.

    As anyone with a high school wrestling background knows, when the other guy is your size and your comparative strength, it all comes down to technique.

  2. Does Brock Lesnar count as an ex-NFL player?
    He was cut prior to the season, but at one point he was a Viking. And he had a pretty sucessful MMA career.

  3. I wouldn’t say “big” fights. He filled in for Carwin against Nelson and got beat pretty early. And lost to Kongo in the fight before that. He’s typically bottom Main card.

    Nothing close to Brock who won the UFC belt twice. Even once after his first bout with diverticulitis.

  4. Mitrione is only a slight favorite in this one (-120), and a good bet to win. He looked good against Big Roy until he got caught with a huge overhand right, then he demolished Phillip De Fries in 19 seconds in his next fight.

    Schaub seems like a cool dude in his interviews, but he seems a bit small for heavyweight. He could probably drop to 205 and be more competitive…

  5. it’s funny how society views football as such a dangerous sport with vicious hits in all, but MMA is on the rise 2 guys beating their brains out in a circle with no pads on….think those guys don’t have head injuries, we praise them for KO’ing a guy but fine a DB for separating the ball from the receiver….definition of hypocrisy

  6. How can anyone actually watch or support this “sport”. Why don’t you guys learn how to play real sports, and you know, build coordination, teamwork, and invaluable attributes that will help you become a real man… Instead, you use your bottled up anger of being a loser all your life to lift weights all day, and ultimately finding joy in beating another man to the brink of death, or vice versa… What child or wife wouldn’t want a brain dad father or husband?

    Grow up little boys. This “sport” is an absolute horrible example for children; not to mention you won’t be able to pay your epic medical bills, especially the older you get and even more of your loose screws get looser.

  7. Mr.treyseven, one problem with your statement of hypocrisy; fighters are banned from everything automatically for 3 months after a knockout by the athletic commission…that ain’t happening in football!
    pilot, that is the most idiotic statement I have heard about MMA. you obviously know nothing about what you’re commenting on. you don’t think mixed martial arts take coordination or it took a team of people to get that fighter to the top? you don’t think martial arts or collegiate wrestling build invaluable attributes? you probably think synchronized swimming is a sport. go dance in water while we watch professional athletes (men and women) showcase their skills they’ve been honing for years.

    , ,

  8. Mr.treyseven, one problem with your statement of hypocrisy; fighters are banned from everything automatically for 3 months after a knockout by the athletic commission…that ain’t happening in football!
    pilot, that is the most idiotic statement I have heard about MMA. you obviously know nothing about what you’re commenting on. you don’t think mixed martial arts take coordination or it took a team of people to get that fighter to the top? you don’t think martial arts or collegiate wrestling build invaluable attributes? you probably think synchronized swimming is a sport. go dance in water while we watch professional athletes (men and women) showcase their skills they’ve been honing for years.

    , ,

  9. Given the poor record of former NFL players I do not understand how the author has validated the statement that being big and strong qualifies them to be in MMA.
    There are weight classes and the people that have done well have usually trained for years in some form of martial arts…

  10. MMA fighters were the kids that were always picked last in gym class, so there mom’s signed them up for karate at the local strip mall.

    But hey, if fist punching guidos want to kill themselves and make everyone watching them puke up their Red Bull, by all means fight away!

  11. gibbstastic says:
    Sep 21, 2013 8:29 AM
    Does Brock Lesnar count as an ex-NFL player?
    He was cut prior to the season, but at one point he was a Viking.

    *********************************************

    Do the Vikings count as a NFL team?

  12. I plan on watching UMA it sure as hell beats watching a boring football game,,1st dn,Qb hands off to the RB,,,two yds. 2nd dn QB hands off to the RB, again, 2 yds. 3rd dn QB throws to WR, WR dropped the ball, 4th dn,,,punt the the damned ball. Other team begins 1st and ten. 1st dn QB hands off to RB, two yds,,,,,yadda, yadda, yadda, BORING, BORING. And some of yous pay 350.00 so you and wife can watch this magical show.

  13. Getting arrested with dope in your possession should earn a nice suspension on its own but being drunker than a wino with a box for a home at 7 in the morning should earn him a trip to the Betty Ford clinic.

  14. I could see Tebow doing well in the UFC

    But I don’t think the UFC fans would tolerate him thanking the Lord for helping him beat the face of his opponent to a bloody pulp

  15. MMA is real but not realistic. In a real life fight, a person doesn’t use padded gloves to fight–its all bare hands. In a real fight, as MMA calls it a fight, there are no rings or beautiful women in biknis walking the area holding round numbers up!? If there were no rings, no gloves, I would then call it a real fight. Just saying.

  16. I also think that weighing a person is irrelevant. A real man isn’t afraid to fight; fight an opponent in any size/weight.

    They spend too much time either wrestling (wrestling isn’t fighting) or hopping around the ring or kicking. Too funny.

    Let’s make it a little more realistic–get rid of the gloves, cage and rules…NOW THAT would be a REAL fight.

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