ASR Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu & MMA For American Football of All Ages

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 are 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.

  Marcus “Big Baby” Jones

Jones spent time in the NFL as a defensive end with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and subsequently tried his hand at MMA. His sheer athletic ability helped him to forge a record of 4-2.  His largest stage was an appearance on UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter 10 Final (TUF 10). He lost that bout to Matt Mitrione and has not fought since

 Herschel Walker

Walker is the most renowned and successful of all the NFL players on this list. Playing as a running back, he was the 1982 Heisman trophy winner for the Georgia Bulldogs. He went on to have a successful career with the New Jersey Generals in the USFL and with the Cowboys, Vikings, Eagles and Giants in the NFL.

He has always been a phenomenally-conditioned athlete as he was also an Olympian bobsledder. Unexpectedly at the age of 47, he decided to compete in MMA with Strikeforce. He has initially fared well, currently sporting a record of 2-0.

All have been impressive so far, but time will tell their staying power as they continue to face stiffer competition. They serve as inspirations to other NFL players who think they have what it takes to step up with the big boys of MMA. They had better be ready and train hard though, or they very well could end up like Johnnie Morton, longing for helmets, pads and timeouts…..

Michael Deanailo Westbrook (born July 7, 1972) is a former American college and professional football player who was a wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL) and is also a former mixed martial artist. Westbrook played college football for theUniversity of Colorado, and was recognized as an All-American. He was drafted in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft, and played professionally for the Washington Redskins andCincinnati Bengals of the NFL. After retiring from football, he later competed as a mixed martial arts fighter in the heavyweight division. Westbrook was born in Detroit, Michigan. He attended Chadsey High School in Detroit, and played for the Chadsey Explorers high school football team.  Westbrook attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he played for the Colorado Buffaloes football team from 1991 to 1994. As senior in 1994, he was the receiver in the play known as “The Miracle at Michigan,” a Hail Mary pass from Buffaloes quarterback Kordell Stewart to beat the Michigan Wolverines in the final seconds of the game. At the conclusion of the season, he was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American, and was the recipient of the Paul Warfield Trophy as the best college wide receiver in the nation. The Washington Redskins selected Westbrook in the first round (fourth overall pick) of the 1995 NFL Draft, and played for seven seasons in Washington, before playing the 2002 season with theCincinnati Bengals. In August 1997, the Redskins fined Westbrook $50,000 for punching teammate, running backStephen Davis, an incident caught by local TV news cameras. While injuries hampered Westbrook for much of his NFL career, he played all 16 games in 1999and achieved three career highs, 65 receptions for 1,191 yards and nine touchdowns. Westbrook finished his career with 285 receptions for 4,374 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also rushed 22 times for 160 yards and one touchdown. Westbrook practiced martial arts during his football playing career, and entered Brazilian Jiu-Jitsuafter retirement from the NFL in 2002. He has won national and Pan-American events as a brown belt. In 2008 he won the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (“IBJJF”) World Championship at brown belt. Westbrook said of jiu-jitsu, “This is a lot easier and a lot more fun [than football]. I don’t have to worry about coaches and it’s not nearly as dangerous. I don’t have to worry about pleasing the public and the announcers. Or getting eggs thrown at my door because I dropped a ball. I don’t have to worry about any of that.” Having previously trained with the MASH FIGHT TEAM in Michigan with Former “King Of The Cage” Light Heavyweight Champion James Lee, Westbook now trains atArizona Combat Sports in Tempe, Arizona. As a mixed martial artist, Westbrook competes in the heavyweight (206-265 lbs.) division. He fought once in 2005 and defeated fellow NFL veteran Jarrod Bunch in the main event of a King of the Cage event in Cleveland, Ohio. After the Bunch fight, Westbrook was inactive for four years; and his return to professional MMA was less successful than his debut. In February, 2009, Travis Browne defeated Westbrook in San Bernardino, California, by technical knockout in the third round.  In July 2009, Westbrook squared off against Nick Gaston in the main event of a King of the Cage card in Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin. One minute into the fight, Gaston struck Westbrook in the groin with a knee strike, and Westbrook could not continue. The fight was ruled a no contest. Westbrook also fought on episode 2 of MTV’s Bully Beatdown. On that episode, it was stated that Westbrook owns a black belt in taekwondo and has reached brown-belt status in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsuunder Gustavo Dantas. Westbrook was promoted to a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 2010.

Eli Manning, the ace led the NY Giants to another NFL title. What does Jiu-Jitsu have to do with American football? A lot more than would seem:


Elisha Manning, the young quarterback who won his second NFL title late this Sunday evening, was throwing too many pass interceptions last season. Then Mike Sullivan—an upstart coach formerly on the Rangers who holds a blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu and is big on MMA—entered the scene. Sullivan didn’t have any experience training quarterbacks; still he took the problem head on, setting Eli Manning up with a triangle like the one he’d seen on the Gracie academy emblems. He assigned a meaning to each vertex on the triangle and encouraged the NY Giants star to seek equilibrium between the three different concepts: leadership, decision making, and precision. Manning embraced Sullivan’s new training philosophy, threw fewer incomplete passes, and ended the season breaking an historic Giants yardage record—and he won the Super Bowl, to boot!


In conversations between Mike Sullivan and the prankster Eli Manning, coach and athlete always set aside a few minutes to talk about anything at all, except football. For every five hours talking about plays, tactics and training, the two would take the edge off through brief exchanges about Adam Sandler movies, telling jokes or being silly. To become a great champion, you don’t need to be serious the whole time—quite the contrary. Comic relief can prove to be a performance booster.


In football as in the martial arts, knowing how to fall is vital—if just because there will always be something looking to bowl you over. A true ace takes those hard knocks, seems to be down for the count, and leaps back to his feet as though nothing happened.


Even though it’s an individual sport, in Jiu-Jitsu the power is in the union more than it would seem. If you don’t have motivated teammates to count on, you likely won’t make it very far. As in a football team, every Jiu-Jitsu school has someone quick, someone technical, a powerhouse with a hulking frame, and that guy who crudely uses force at every opportunity. And all of them will be key in shaping your game, as well as your progress on the mat.

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