Sports

5 former NFL players who made a move into the UFC

The NFL is often talked about as the home of the best athletes in the world, but while the stars of that sport do deserve respect, it’s safe to say that in the UFC, even the toughest footballers would find it hard to transition from football.

Over the years, we have seen a number of former NFL players attempt to make the transition into MMA. While a number have failed, there have been a handful who were able to make it into the UFC with some success.

With some skills, namely strength, speed and explosive power, clearly translating from the NFL right into the octagon, could we see former football stars move across sports in the future? Anything is possible.

For now, though, here are five NFL players who made the move into the UFC.


#5. Eryk Anders – UFC light heavyweight

Eryk Anders enjoyed a stellar collegiate career in football before beginning his MMA career
Eryk Anders enjoyed a stellar collegiate career in football before beginning his MMA career

Many of the former NFL stars to transition into the octagon unsurprisingly competed in the heavyweight division. However, the one outlier is Eryk Anders, who has fought in the octagon at both middleweight and light heavyweight.

Unlike many athletes who made the move into MMA, Anders didn’t wrestle during his time at college. Instead, he enjoyed a stellar football career at the University of Alabama, playing for the Crimson Tide as a linebacker.

‘Ya Boi’ helped his team to victory in the 2009 BCS National Championships. After college, he was signed up by the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. However, after failing to make an appearance in the league for them, he briefly moved to the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders before giving up on football entirely.

From there, ‘Ya Boi’ moved into MMA, first as an amateur. He then turned professional in 2015. An 8-0 run was enough to land him a contract with the world’s biggest promotion and he’s been there ever since, putting together a run of 6-6-1 and impressing at times.

Anders has yet to move into title contention, but the athleticism and power that he honed during his football career have definitely helped him in his wins over fighters such as Vinicius Moreira and Rafael Natal.



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