Shawne Merriman announced that he’s starting a mixed martial arts promotion called Lights Out Xtreme Fighting. The former San Diego Chargers linebacker has been a longtime fan of the sport and trains in martial arts himself. Merriman already has a television deal in place and will be holding the first event on May 11 in Burbank, California.
The former football star isn’t just trying to jump into the business of MMA because he's a fan. According to TMZ, he wants to fight as well. He even called out World Wrestling Entertainment star and “Guardians of the Galaxy” actor Dave Bautista, who has a 1-0 MMA record and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Merriman believes a bout between the two would bring in a lot of casual fans to the new promotion. Given the commercial success of other WWE stars crossing over to MMA, there’s merit to his claim. Merriman was also briefly signed to the World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation but they allegedly had issues with the contract.
Merriman also stated that many other former football players want in on his new venture. While these athletes might be green as fighters, there are plenty of football standouts that have had success inside the cage. Greg Hardy and Matt Mitrione have demonstrated an ability to pick up striking quickly and that it’s not just wresting stars that can transition over and do well. Merriman might be right about fans wanting to see him fight Bautista, but given the latter’s Hollywood success, the chances are likely slim of it ever happening. Instead, leveraging his football contacts might be Lights Out Xtreme Fighting’s best shot at finding an audience.
Edward Carbajal serves as the lead MMA analyst for Frontproof Media and holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a brown belt in Ishin Ryu Karate. He has covered combat sports since 2014 and has been a fan of MMA since the first UFC. You can follow Edward on Twitter @Carbazel or at his website TheBlogBoardJungle.com.