Ex-NFL player Shawne Merriman succeeding in MMA post-football

Merriman
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 07: Former NFL player Shawne Merriman is seen in attendance during the UFC Fight Night event at Capital One Arena on December 07, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Former NFL Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman didn’t set out for a career in mixed martial arts following his retirement from football. Rather, MMA found him and before long, the ex-NFL star was training for a second career in the octagon. MMA fans are anticipating UFC 249 and the biggest Lightweight Championship fight in years. Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will defend the belt against Tony Ferguson and fight fans can use the 1xbit bet bonus to wager on the fighter they believe will win the bout.

In 2019, Merriman was scrolling through Instagram when a video caught his eye. The social media video featured former Indianapolis Colts player Chris McCain sparring in an MMA gym. The video captivated Merriman, who still hungered for the chance to compete at a high level just as he did in the NFL. But the video did more than just whet Merriman’s appetite for competition. He realized there is a world full of ex-football players and other athletes needing an outlet following their careers.

A crossroads

McCain’s decision to enter MMA came after being cut by the Colts. The ex-player had found himself in trouble with the law and league forcing his premature departure from football. Merriman may not have left the NFL in a similar way, but he needed the athletic competition in his life. The competition drew Merriman to begin training and consider a career in MMA.

Merriman initially got into MMA in 2016 with Bellator. At the time, he fully expected to fight for Bellator, or another promotion, one day. He later decided against fighting and instead the ex-San Diego Charger moved into the promotion area of MMA and became a business partner in the Lights Out Extreme Fighting promotion (LXF). The small independent fight company may not have the names and glamor of the UFC, but it is sanctioned by the California Athletic Commission.

Lights Out Xtreme Fighting

Since partnering with Steven Bash and George Bastrmajyan to form LXF, the company has seen tremendous growth. Merriman’s background in the NFL and business connections have made it possible to reach deals with various sponsors and media outlets. It never hurts to have a high-profile ex-athlete as part of the ownership team and LXF is proof of this belief.

The fight promotion has broadcast television contracts with Fox Sports West, Prime Ticket, and Fox Sports San Diego – the city in which Merriman played professional football. LXF also appears on television on regional Fox Sports channels in Las Vegas, Hawaii, and parts of Mexico. Although the company may be small compared to UFC and Bellator, it is growing and finding its own regional niche. LXF is showing a promotion doesn’t have to aim for global reach right out of the gate. Rather, it can find success on a regional basis.

The popularity of the promotion showed with the announcement of its LXF 5 show with nearly all 1,800 tickets selling out within hours of the show’s announcement. LXF’s previous event had a reported a crowd of around 1,100 fight fans.

McCain has found a home with the LXF promotion and has fought three times for the company. He may not be the only ex-professional athlete to compete as former Seattle Seahawks player Kache Palacio has also signed with the promotion. Merriman’s company is not only succeeding, but the former NFL player is giving fellow athletes an outlet at the ends of their playing days.

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