Though several big strides have been taken in recent years, the sport of mixed martial arts still is trying to break into the mainstream.
But in the National Football League, the most mainstream of all American sports, MMA appears to be gaining plenty of acceptance.
According to the Washington Times, Washington Redskins wide receivers Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El are among a group of NFL players who have incorporated MMA training into their offseason workouts.
“If it was just run, run, run — that’s something I could do, but I was losing some of my muscle mass. But I’m not losing as much this year,” Randle El said. “I think the grappling (helps). When you are on the ground wrestling with a guy, that’s how it is when you catch a ball and you’re tussling with a guy and trying to get out.”
Moss trained a few days a week in the offseason with Lonny Intorn, an instructor at Punch Fitness in Miami. Intorn also has worked with Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson.
The past two seasons have been injury-plagued for Moss, but perhaps the training methods are paying dividends. Randle El said his fellow wideout is having his best camp since the two have been teammates.
According to the paper, the training regimen intrigued Moss because he was a fan of fighter Kimbo Slice.
Slice, whose real name is Kevin Ferguson, played football at the University of Miami. He now has his own NFL connection. In a new Internet video, which reportedly is a commercial for Nike, Slice “trains” San Diego Chargers star LaDainian Tomlinson.
In the video, Tomlinson arrives at Slice’s house and uses some of Slice’s backyard training techniques. Those include boxing a refrigerator, bench-pressing air conditioners and leg-pressing a broken-down car.
New training methods are not the only indication of MMA’s growing acceptance.
The San Francisco 49ers brought in former fighter and current MMA broadcaster Bas Rutten to speak to the team at training camp.
“My message to them is about how to mentally deal with things,” Rutten told the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News before addressing the team. “Some of what I talk about will be conditioning of the body, but my belief is that everything starts with the mind. You win a fight not with your strength, but with your mind.”
• BELFORT OUT — Vitor Belfort has been forced to withdraw from his scheduled fight with Matt Lindland because of a broken hand he suffered in his Affliction debut on July 19.
Belfort scored a second-round knockout over Terry Martin but injured his hand in the victory.
Lindland still likely is to appear on the card, scheduled for Oct. 11 at the Thomas & Mack Center, but a replacement opponent has yet to be announced.
• ORTIZ STILL UNSIGNED — Despite many reports to the contrary, it appears Tito Ortiz still is a free agent.
The star light heavyweight seemed set on signing with Affliction two weeks ago.
He even called his deal a “ground-breaking, record contract” on Aug. 5, the day after his Ultimate Fighting Championship contract officially expired.
That was news to the man in charge of the upstart promotion.
At a press conference the following day to formally announce Affliction’s upcoming Las Vegas card, Tom Atencio told the Review-Journal the next day that he had not even spoken to Ortiz yet about a potential deal.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@ reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.