Eight for the Octagon

Many soccer fans argue that the U.S. isn’t as talented nor successful as the rest of the world because our premier athletes choose to play other sports rather than futbol.  While soccer tries to break it’s way into the big four professional sports played in the U.S., MMA has been a growing industry, which made TPD ponder, what if our premier athletes choose to put on the gloves and step into the Octagon?  Here are eight athletes we feel could hold there own against the likes of Jon Jones, Cain Velasquez, and GSP.

-Patrick Willis, LB, San Francisco 49ers
6’1” 240
            At 6’1”, 240 lbs., Patrick Willis would fit right in height wise in the heavyweight division.  The middle linebacker for the 49ers is a freak of nature on the gridiron, being as built as he is with an uncanny amount of speed and quickness to compliment.  He is also a smart player, basically quarterbacking a 49er defense that was the top unit in 2009.  A three-sport athlete in high school (football, basketball, baseball), Willis was named Mr. Football in the state of Tennessee not only as a linebacker, but also as a running back.
-Andre Iguodala, F, Philadelphia 76ers
6’6” 207
            Iguodala can be described in one phrase: freak of nature.  The 76ers small forward is all muscle, and combines that with NBA level speed, as well as a quickness and tenacity that allows him to be one of the top level defenders in basketball.  At 207, we would see Iguodala dropping down to the Light Heavyweight division.  Picture this for one moment; a championship match up for the Light Heavyweight title between Jon Jones and Andre Iguodala…yeah, we just got chills too.
-Russell Westbrook, G, Oklahoma City Thunder
6’3” 187
            Russell Westbrook is not only crazy athletic, but he brings attitude to the hardwood as well, a skill that would serve him well if he were to step into the ring.  The former UCLA Bruin and Kevin Love roommate (a little T’wolves shout out), currently commands to court for the young Oklahoma City Thunder, and his game is driven by his attitude and swagger.  Unlike many of his other NBA counterparts on this list, Westbrook’s height would be very similar to what he would be facing off against in the Middleweight division.

6’3” 250
-Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49er’s
            The three sport athlete at his Washington D.C. high school, Vernon Davis has no shortage of athleticism at his disposal.  Depsite excelling at football and basketball, Davis was able to win a DCIAA championship in the high jump for his track and field team, leaping a height of six feet and five inches.  Standing at 6’3”, he would stand eye to eye with former champ Brock Lesnar and would stand over currently champ Cain Velasquez by two inches and roughly six pounds.  Combining his size and speed, along with his ability to handle blocking charging defensive ends and linebackers, we feel Davis would be a handful in the Heavyweight division.
-Carl Crawford, OF, Boston Red Sox
6’2” 215
            TPD had trouble finding some baseball players that would hold their own in the Octogon.  With Nolan Ryan retiring some years ago, and Milton Bradley being literally too crazy to be considered, we choose Bo Sox outfielder Carl Crawford.  Widely regarded as one of the hardest workers in the MLB, Crawford combines power and speed like nobody’s business.  His overall speed and athleticism, combined with superior hand eye coordination and quickness would allow Crawford to somewhat compete.  To be competitive, Crawford would most likely have to drop down to 205 and fight as a Light Heavyweight, as 215 is on the lighter end of the Heavyweight scale.
-Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore Ravens 
6’1” 250
            We know Ray Ray is old, but the man has a swagger that is second to none.  And although it may be true that he is beginning to lose a bit of his speed, there’s no doubt his confidence and experience gives him an edge on his competition.  Pertaining directly to the Octogon, Lewis was a 4A Florida State Wrestling Champ back in high school, and a career of crushing QB’s and navigating his way through an offensive line prove he has the mentality as well as the intelligence to break down a situation with multiple factors in mere fractions of a sentence.  Now imagine he only has to train all of his fury on one opponent standing across the mat.
-Rajon Rondo, G, Boston Celtics
6’1” 171
All successful NBA players have length, but Rondo is seen as in a class of his own.  Combine that length with the evasive way he manipulates himself through the lane, and you’d have a sneaky, slippery fighter that would use his length and craftiness to defeat his opponents.  Rondo would have the ability to fight at either the Middle or Welterweight division, in either scenario his length would allow him to better defend against the better grappling techniques seen at the lower weight classes.
 -Matt Carkner, D, Ottawa Senators
6’4” 231
A solid defensemen for the Senators, we only choose one hockey player to put on this list, because honestly, they all like to fight and could make up a list of their own.  Carkner is a big body with a nasty streak, always being at the top of the NHL in fights.  Carkner’s only shortcoming would be his height combined with his weight, with Cain Velasquez standing three inches shorter but 10 pounds heavier.  However, no one could question a hockey players balance and coordination, so we wouldn’t worry too much about his ability to handle his body in the Octagon.
 Honorable Mention:
-LeBron James, F, Miami Heat
6’8” 250
          James is just a bit too tall for MMA, but regardless, we’d never want to see King James across the ring from us.
-Rickie Weeks, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
5’10” 215
         Unlike James, Weeks is a bit on the shorter end of the spectrum, but if he dropped down to 205, it’d be an interesting prospect.
-Julius Peppers, DE, Chicago Bears
6’7” 283
        Peppers is about 20 pounds too heavy for the Heavyweight division, but he’s crazy athletic nonetheless, and handles himself well with his quick feet.
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