There are badasses in every professional sport: bowling has Walter Ray “Deadeye” Williams, billiards has Dennis “Robocop” Orcollo, and darts has Phil “The Power” Taylor. What, you’ve never heard of them? With nicknames like that, you know these fellows are legit. But throw any of these respected pros into the Octagon, and we might not have the pleasure of never hearing their names again.
However, there are pro athletes out there who could hold their own in the cage. Sure, it would take a little training and some monetary incentives, but a few special pro athletes could cross over into MMA and give fi ght fans their money’s worth. Who knows, they might even win. So without further ado, I present the not-so-average-Joes of professional sports who could possibly whoop some ass in the Octagon.
STEPHEN NEAL Height/Weight: 6’4”, 305 lbs Sport: Football – Offensive Lineman for the New England Patriots
Neal boasts an impressive resume. He’s got three Superbowl rings and he never played a snap of college football. What he did do was compile a college wrestling record of 151–10 while at Cal-State Bakersfi eld. Neal won the NCAA Division I wrestling title in 1998 and 1999. He also picked up the Dan Hodge Award, known as the Heisman Trophy of wrestling, in 1999. Oh yeah, and he beat Brock Lesnar in the NCAA fi nals in 1999. Not too shabby.
If Neal wanted to cut down a few pounds, he could be right in the mix of the best heavyweights in the UFC. We know he can grapple and he’s got good enough hands to pass block. He’s also explosive, powerful, agile, and he keeps Tom Brady healthy enough to bang supermodels.
GEORGE LARAQUE Height/Weight: 6’3”, 243 lbs Sport: Hockey – Right Wing for the Pittsburgh Penguins
Laraque is the heavyweight champion of the NHL. Known for his pugilistic skills on skates, he is not afraid to throw down the gloves and brawl. The Penguin in an enforcer in every sense of the word, spending 957 minutes in the penalty box over his ten-year career.
Laraque’s presence in MMA would make for more than a few interesting fi ghts. Think about it – Tank Abbot and Wesley “Cabbage” Correira are still around. Are you telling me that Laraque can’t brawl with those guys? The Pittsburgh powerhouse has a great chin and quick, powerful hands. He’s also from Montreal, so maybe GSP could take him under his wing and show him some grappling if Laraque ever gets sick of skating around like Nancy Kerrigan.
MARIUSZ PUDZIANOWSKI Height/Weight: 6’1”, 287 lbs Sport: Strength – Four time winner of The World’s Strongest Man
Being the World’s Strongest Man doesn’t instantly translate into MMA supremacy. But combine Pudzianowski’s power and speed with his background in Kyokushin karate and boxing, and that makes a tasty recipe for ass-kicking success. Obviously, he would have to tighten his ground game, but his brute strength and great cardio would make for a great base to start from.
Boasting a physique that makes Phil Barnoni look like a schoolgirl, Pudzianowski’s intimidation factor is off the charts. However, it might hurt his rep if anyone ever watched him star in the Polish remake of Conan the Barbarian. Mariusz, what is good in life? “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women.”
FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR. Height/Weight: 5’8”, 160 lbs Sport: Boxing – World Boxing Council Welterweight Champion
Pound-for-pound, Mayweather may be the greatest boxer of all time, winning six world boxing championships at fi ve different weight classes. He’s posted an undefeated record of 39-0, with notable wins over Arturo Gatti, Zab Judah, Oscar De La Hoya, and Ricky Hatton. Mayweather has speed, power, and a stellar ability to slip punches. But can he stop a double-leg takedown? Not without some solid MMA training.
Pure boxers like Marcus Davis have made the transition to MMA, but not without years of training and paying their dues. If Mayweather decides to make the switch to MMA, (and it has been reported that he spoke with HDNet Fights and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban about a possible bout), he can forget about the $20 million paydays he is accustomed to. The real question is whether or not Mayweather wants to tarnish his boxing legacy by possibly getting his ass kicked in the cage. If he does, I’ll shell out the money for the pay-per-view. Hell, it can’t be worse than watching him on Dancing with the Stars.
There you have it – four professional athletes perfectly capable of stepping into the world of MMA. Could they win? We will probably never know, although Pudzianowski stands the best shot at actually making his MMA debut. Now, you may be asking yourself, where are the baseball or soccer players on this list? Well, Ty Cobb is dead, and Vinnie Jones is now an actor (plus, testicle grabbing is illegal in MMA).
So pros, if you’re ready, the Octagon is calling your name. Otherwise, I’m going to wait for Deadeye, Robocop, and The Power to retire from their respective sports (if bowling, billiards, and darts can be considered sports) and hope they decide it’s time to reinvent their images in the Octagon.