With the Super Bowl tonight, the entire world has their eyes and minds on American football as the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers compete to raise the Lombardi Trophy. It is a pinnacle event of athleticism and strength. Similarly to football players, MMA fighters constantly express a combination of brute strength, speed, and athleticism when they are fighting. With that considered, MMA Sucka has put together an MMA football team, comprised of MMA fighters who we think could excel at the sport.
It should be noted that players with a football background are not included on the team. So fighters like Greg Hardy, Brock Lesnar, Matt Mitrione, Brendan Schaub, Shawn Jordan, Eryk Anders, and others are omitted despite being the obvious choices to be included on the team.
MMA’s Super Bowl Team
Quarterback: Stephen Thompson
The leader of the offense is Stephen Thompson. He has the classic look of an All-American quarterback, and is well-liked by nearly everyone. He would be the glue that holds the team together. Physically, his karate background gives him the footwork needed to avoid incoming pressure from the defense and stay well-balanced in the pocket. His mental sharpness also makes him a great candidate to run the offense.
Running Back: Tyron Woodley
Former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is the team’s running back. “The Chosen One” is known for his powerful explosiveness, which is needed to get past the line and into the second level. His tree trunk legs also imply that he has the leg strength to drive through tacklers. Just give him the ball and watch him go to work.
Full Back: Anthony Johnson
Just imagine newly-signed Bellator light heavyweight Anthony Johnson rumbling (pun intended) towards you, looking to take your head off. MMA fans know the power that this man possesses, and it would be intriguing to see how that power is displayed while he is running downfield looking to lay out a defender, whether blocking or with the football in his hand.
Wide Receiver: Kevin Holland
“Big Mouth” Kevin Holland is nearly the perfect size for a wide receiver at 6’3 and around 200 pounds. He has the quickness, athleticism, and creativity to get open running routes, and his skills with his hands in the Octagon could translate to catching with his hands in football. Plus, he has the mouth to back it up, similar to legends like Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens.
Tight End: Walt Harris
UFC heavyweight Walt Harris is an Alabama native, where football is king. He probably would have one of the highest football IQs on the team right off the bat because of this. He also played basketball at Jacksonville State University, sharing the nickname “The Big Ticket” with NBA Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett. With that background, he has the athleticism to go up and get the ball at the high point, similar to fellow former college basketball players turned Hall of Fame tight ends Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez. His power in the Octagon shows that he can excel as a blocker when needed too.
Tackle: Derrick Lewis
Derrick Lewis has both the strength and mobility needed to be the anchor of the offensive line. “The Black Beast” normally has to cut weight to make the heavyweight limit, showing he has the size to be a lineman. You might not be able to tell how athletic he is by looking at him, but once he gets in competition it really shines through. Combine that with his devastating knockout power and you get a tackle to build the offense around.
Guard: Francis Ngannou
With a slightly smaller frame, physical freak Francis Ngannou starts at guard. He has shown the ability to quickly learn skills, so “The Predator” has a bevy of potential. Similarly to Lewis, his former opponent, he carries an insane amount of power mixed with some solid athleticism. Seeing Ngannou pulling around to kick a blindsided defensive end would certainly be a site to see.
Center: Mariusz Pudzianowski
Former World’s Strongest Man winner and KSW veteran Mariusz Pudzianowski needs to be on the football field somewhere due to his sheer strength. He’s not as mobile as Rozenstruik or Ngannou, and centers do not generally have to move as much as the other offensive line positions. “Pudz” would give a massive jolt off of the line, creating running lanes for the backs and giving the quarterback plenty of time to throw.
Defensive Tackle: Emmanuel Yarbrough
While certainly not the best MMA fighter, Emmanuel Yarbrough could be a stud of a defensive tackle. Coming in at 6’8 and weighing in excess of 600 pounds, the sumo wrestler turned UFC and Pride veteran would be an immovable object up the middle. “Tiny” may not the most mobile or well-conditioned of athletes, but he could be put in on running downs and single-handedly force every run outside the tackles.
Defensive End: Jon Jones
Both of three-time UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones‘s brothers have played defensive end in the NFL at high levels. “Bones” Jones more than likely learned a thing or two from them about the position growing up, and has the attributes to excel at the position. His long arms would also be an asset, able to keep offensive linemen from getting inside to control him. Especially with the soon-to-be heavyweight bulking up to a size we’ve not seen before, that would be combined with his unmatched athleticism and solid strength to be a force in the trenches.
Linebacker: Yoel Romero
Much like the aforementioned “Rumble” Johnson, no one wants to see “Soldier of God” Yoel Romero running towards them like a Cuban missile. Also a newly-signed Bellator light heavyweight, Romero has an Olympic medal in wrestling on top of his decorated MMA pedigree. He has the explosiveness and strength to excel at the position, but his wrestling background will make it even easier to tackle opponents. Hopefully fight fans get to see a Romero-Johnson matchup in the near future in the Bellator cage.
Cornerback: Khabib Nurmagomedov
A cornerback needs to be able to stay in the face of the receiver that they’re covering with the physicality to affect their routes and make tackles when needed. Although a little undersized, all-time MMA great and UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov fits the bill. All of those attributes can be applied to “The Eagle”, as he showcases an unrelenting pressure and a physical dominance over opponents that is looked for in shutdown cornerbacks. His penchant for takedowns will also help him with tackling.
Safety: Alexander Volkanovski
As known by most fight fans, UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski used to weigh 214 pounds as a rubgy player. Rugby teaches its players to aggressively go towards the ball and to hit the player with it if they don’t get to it first. That is very similar to what a safety does in football, and giving Volkanovski the instincts to be a great pick for the position despite being 5’6 and filling out a slimmer frame from his rugby days. Combined with his toughness, “The Great” could be a mainstay at the back of the defense.
Kicker: Jose Aldo
Former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo is the team’s kicker. Many of the NFL’s kickers come from a soccer background, and Aldo would be no different as he grew up playing the sport. That background would presumably give him the accuracy needed to make field goals, while his patented leg kicks show that he has the power in his legs to kick with great force.
Punter: Edson Barboza
Similar to Aldo, UFC featherweight contender Edson Barboza has some of the strongest kicks in MMA. His kicks may even be stronger than the man he shares the “Junior” nickname with, making him the punter to boot the ball deep and change field position. Accuracy is not as much of a factor in punting, as long as the ball is kicked straight ahead in some capacity. This would similarly make him a great kickoff specialist.