Shawne Merriman is looking to take “Lights Out” from the gridiron to the boxing ring.
And he’s leaving the gloves behind.
Merriman, the 34-year-old former NFL linebacker, announced on Wednesday that he will compete this fall for the World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation at a pay-per-view event in Wyoming.
“This is really exciting for me,” Merriman said. “It’s a real privilege and honor for me to come out and fight. Thank you to everyone at the World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation for your support. It’s time for Lights Out!”
Wait … Bare-knuckle fighting is legal?
Wyoming hosted the first state-sanctioned, legal bare-knuckle fighting event in U.S. history in June, a bloody spectacle featuring 10 bouts that drew 2,000 live fans to a hockey rink and tens of thousands of pay-per-view fans.
Cheyenne’s Bryan Pedersen, an MMA fighter and former state lawmaker helped usher in bare-knuckle fighting in Wyoming with a 2012 bill to create a state board of mixed martial arts.
When 28 states passed on hosting the June event, Wyoming welcomed the competition. Pederson told the Associated Press that the state board reviewed research that showed bare-knuckle fighting was safer than other combat sports in terms of concussions.
Merriman to compete as heavyweight at ‘Rise of the Titans’
The fall event titled “WBKFF: Rise of the Titans” doesn’t have a set date yet and will take place in Casper. Merriman’s opponent has not been named. Merriman, 6-4, played at 272 pounds in the NFL and will compete as a heavyweight.
The event will also feature a light heavyweight bout between MMA veterans Chris Leben and Phil Baroni and will launch a $100,000 eight-man tournament, according to MMAfighting.com.
Merriman’s first combat event after NFL career flamed out
Merriman last played in the NFL in 2012. He made the Pro Bowl his first three seasons in the league with the San Diego Chargers, but never returned to form after serving a PED suspension and suffering a knee injury.
He has since made promotional appearances for Bellator, but has never competed in a sanctioned combat event.
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