1 of 17Andy Lyons/Getty Images, Cliff Welch/Icon SMI
Season 10 of Spike TV's <i>The Ultimate Fighter</i> premieres Sept. 16, and unlike previous series of the MMA reality show, this season is comprised of four NFL players competing against 12 other heavyweights for a spot in the UFC.<br><br>Football and combat sports have been linked for years as NFL players often employ fighting for training purposes and as second careers. But only recently have football players turned to MMA, and not boxing. Here are just some gridiron standouts who have hit the cage. <br><br>The 1996 first-round pick by the Buccaneers spent seven years in the NFL as a defensive end before compiling a 4-1 pro MMA record. Now, seven years removed from the NFL, Jones looks join the UFC by competing on T.U.F. 10.
2 of 17AP, Spike TV
Mitrione, a backup defensive lineman for the Giants, spent three years in the NFL before leaving because of injuries. He competed on the upcoming season of <i>The Ultimate Fighter</i>.
3 of 17Cliff Welch, Aaron M. Sprecher/Icon SMI
he former fullback from the University of Colorado spent time with the Buffalo Bills before compiling a 4-0 record in the cage. All of his victories have come by first-round TKOs. We'll see if he can keep his streak alive on <i>The Ultimate Fighter 10</i>.
4 of 17Cliff Welch/Icon SMI
Shrivers briefly played with the Falcons in 2000. The former offensive tackle previously fought as a super heavyweight, but slimmed down to meet the 265-pound limit and join the next cast T.U.F.'ers.
5 of 17Wireimage
The 21st overall pick in the 1994 NFL draft turned his attention to MMA two years after his career as a wide receiver ended. He was knocked out by Bernard Ackah in 38 seconds in his only fight, at a Dynamite! USA event in 2007. Afterward, Morton was suspended indefinitely for testing positive for anabolic steroids.
6 of 17Jamie Squire/Getty Images
The fourth pick in the 1995 draft, and eight-year NFL wideout, Westbrook turned to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu after retiring and, in 2008, he won the IBJJF World Championship as a purple belt. In his first MMA fight, in 2005, Westbrook defeated former ex-NFL'er Jarrod Bunch via rear naked choke. Westbrook was also featured in an episode of MTV's MMA reality series <i>Bully Beatdown</i>.
7 of 17Al Bello/Getty Images
The seven-time Pro Bowler and current Broncos safety (he signed with Denver in Feb. 2009 after 12 seasons with Philadelphia) has never fought professionally but regularly uses mixed martial arts to train for football.
8 of 17John Biever/SI
Allen, a defensive end for the Vikings, has been to two Pro Bowls since making his NFL debut in 2004. He has also trained at the famed MMA gym Arizona Combat Sports and works with former WEC and UFC fighter Alex Karalexis to improve his gridiron game.
9 of 17AP, Greg Choat/SI
After his WWE days and before his UFC heavyweight title reign, Lesnar tried out for the Minnesota Viking in 2004. He played in the preseason before being cut.
10 of 17Robert Beck, Greg Choat/SI
Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner and current Cardinals backup QB, sought a "mental and physical makeover." So he employed Fox's NFL reporter and MMA commentator Jay Glazer to put him to work in the cage.
11 of 17AP, Ed Nessen/Sporting News/Icon SMI
Perhaps the NFL's most experienced MMA convert, Sapp was signed to four teams in his four years in the league, having only played in one game. Since making his pro MMA debut in 2002, Sapp has compiled a 10-5-1 record in the cage.
12 of 17Jonathan Daniel/SI
After a nine-year NFL career at defensive end, Spellman hit the cage at <i>XFO 13: Operation Beatdown</i>, a card that included UFC fighters Terry Martin, Jason Guida and Jeff Curran. Spellman went a full three rounds before defeating Antonio Hayes by unanimous decision.
13 of 17John W. McDonough/SI, AP
The four-time Pro Bowler will enter his 17th season in the NFL this year, but while at Fresno State, he finished seventh at the 1992 NCAA Wrestling Championship. He got to know former UFC champ Chuck Liddell during his college wrestling days and, now, the two often train together, each preparing for their respective sports.
14 of 17Al Tielemans/SI
The Philadelphia Eagles placekicker and three-time Pro Bowler has been known to dabble in martial arts during the offseason.
15 of 17Bill Frakes/SI
Darius, a 10-year veteran safety, was a first-round draft pick in 1998 out of Syracuse, where he was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 1997. During his career as a pro football player, Darius has reportedly used MMA to train in the offseason.
16 of 17Michael J. LeBrecht II/1Deuce3 Photography
The offensive tackle, who has won two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers, is no stranger to MMA as his older brother owned a martial arts training facility. But Starks has also employed the help of MMA fighter Trevor Lally to improve his cardio for the NFL and technique on the line.
17 of 17Sean Meyers/Icon SMI, MMAWeekly.com
An All-Big 12 offensive lineman at Texas Tech, Richards made it into the pros with the Indianapolis Colts before trying the Arena Football League. But he soon realized his heart was in MMA and has since fought in eight bouts. One of his only two losses came to No. 1 UFC heavyweight contender Shane Carwin.
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