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Pro Athletes That Could Have Been MMA Fighters



With the announcement of his retirement from the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal can now go full-force into his second love: training MMA. OK, that’s not going to happen. Shaq will find himself in some cushy broadcasting job, likely trading verbal jabs with Charles Barkley. But for a time Shaq did train MMA. So here’s a look at a piece we did a few years back that features some pros that we think would have been fierce MMA fighters.

Ray Lewis

Ray Lewis Ray Lewis is known for his intensity, energy and desire to win. He lives to punish people on the football field. For him football is like MMA – you keep going until someone doesn’t get up. He’s super fast, 6’1″ 250 lb. and he’d never stop fighting. He’d surely never tap. He’d also redefine “Epic Staredown”. Nobody would bring it more than Lewis.

Nolan Ryan

Nolan Ryan punches Robin VenturaHe may be retired but remember that fight with White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura? Classic dirty boxing that would’ve made Randy Couture cry with pride. Ryan showed bad-assery at age 46 against a much younger Ventura. In the offseason Ryan wrestled with and branded steer on his ranch.  One can only imagine how nasty Ryan’s clinch game would’ve been.

Alicia Sacramone

alicia-sacramoneGrapplers dream of her flexibility. I bet she could easily pick up Eddie Bravo’s flavor of Jiu-Jitsu given her attributes. Plus, she has an underrated left hook. Remember this video? Another thing Alicia has is strength. Gymnasts are known for having most functional strength among athletes. A lot of fighters incorporate gymnastics body work/exercises into their strength routines. Plus, don’t forget the attitude. After all, there’s a reason they don’t call it gym-nice-tics.

Kyle Farnsworth

Kyle FarnsworthThe Farns is big, strong and has just enough crazy in him to make the fighter across from him very nervous. He kicked an electric fan so hard he sprained his knee and had to go on the DL. He shot in on Paul Wilson, took him down with ease and bloodied his face. Or how about his awesome double-leg and slam of Jeremy Affeldt? At 6’5″ 240, with tree trunks for legs, Farns would have made Cro Cop look small.

Adrian Wilson

Adrian WilsonAdrian Wilson is 6’3″ 230 lbs of mean. He can jump 66 inches off the ground — see it right here — and he has a standing vertical of almost 40. Athletic ability is great to have in MMA, but Wilson is also one of he hardest hitters in all of football. Wilson has received a few unnecessary roughness penalties in his career. “Probably about 100% of the time the hits I do make, they’re kind of violent, and that’s what they probably see is the violent part of the hit.”

Carlos Zambrano

Carlos ZambranoCarlos Zambrano has already had 2 nicknames that were good enough for MMA: “El Toro” and “Big Z”. They are both spot on. Zambrano is 6’5″ 255, and his temper is exactly like that of a bull. He disfigured the face of former teammate Michael Barrett in a brawl that started in the dugout and made its way to the clubhouse. He beat the tar out of a Gatorade machine. You don’t mess with the Zambrano.


shaq-mmaShaq already trains Gracie Jits and Muay Thai. He would have no problem putting anyone in a triangle choke with those super-long legs. Also, imagine catching a flying knee from him. Being over 7 feet tall he’d have no problem landing a head kick on Lesnar or any other heavyweight. He also has his first opponent in mind. He wants to take on Hong Man Choi.

Tie Domi

Tie DomiDomi made a career in the NHL by taking on — and usually beating up — much bigger players. His bouts with Bob Probert were legendary. He once knocked Scott Niedermayer unconscious with a vicious elbow. When a taunting fan fell through the glass into the team bench, Domi pinned him and started throwing. And his nickname is MMA-ready too: “The Albanian Assassin”.

Have any to add to the list? Let us know in the comments section.

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