A free UFC fight on Spike TV on Saturday night gives us a great excuse to talk MMA and fighting with Redskins wide receiver Terrence Austin. It's always fun to speak to one of D.C.'s professional athletes about one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Check out SB Nation's UFC Fight Night 24 predictions by clicking here.
This is Part II of an ongoing series where we talk to D.C. professional athletes about their love of MMA and combat sports. For Part I, check out Chad's interview with Capitals star Eric Fehr here.
Chad Dukes: We had you on the radio show a couple weeks back, and we talked about a few things, and you mentioned you liked watching UFC fights and Mixed Martial Arts. I'm just curious: what drew you to the sport? What first made you check out Mixed Martial Arts?
Terrence Austin: You know what, I think it was the physicality of it. I watch boxing a lot and one of my favorite boxers is Floyd Mayweather and how fast he is with his hands. I always wondered where he would be in a street fight. How would he fight if he just used his hands? Would it work with somebody who could actually use their feet too. And I thought it is a lot more complicated to do, fight with both hands and feet and have to defend that. When I started watching the fights, I began to see how physical it was and how much the guys were bleeding and all the submission moves that guys were using, and I just got attracted to it.
CD: A lot of people are drawn to the complexity of the sport. You play professional football and that is a pretty violent sport. As a matter of fact, most people think it is more dangerous than MMA. What similarities can you draw from Mixed Martial Arts to the sport of professional football? Are there any similarities between the two?
TA: I definitely think there are similarities. You probably have to sit down and think about it more. As me being a receiver, I have to go up against a defensive back in press coverage and I have to really learn how to use my hands. That can definitely work in boxing too. But I think for the most part, it's all about trying to learn how to use your quickness and prevent the guy from putting hands on you. That's definitely a good analogy you can use for football and MMA.
CD: Yeah, you mention that and you mention boxing and MMA. I've seen linemen train in Mixed Martial Arts to help them with the quickness of their hands. Would you ever consider training in Mixed Martial Arts? Is that something you would ever consider doing, maybe, either to help you be a wide receiver or when your NFL career is over?
TA: Oh yeah, definitely. My uncle was into Jiu-Jitsu and the guy that I trained with pre-draft was into it too. I am going to go back and learn. That is something that I am definitely going to be into and that's something I talked to some people about working with in the offseason. It's going to help me with a number of things: my balance, quickness and learning how to use my hands a lot more.
CD: You mentioned you enjoyed Floyd Mayweather in boxing. Do you have a favorite MMA fighter?
TA: I think, Rampage. Rampage is definitely my favorite. I just like how he is out there and the way that he looks. He looks intimidating to these guys, you know. Brock Lesnar is out there and he is one of those big time guys, even though he did lose a fight. I was a little bit surprised at that. I like both of those guys.
CD: You mentioned those two guys and those two guys are entertainers. Not only do they put on good fights, but they entertain the crowd. Is that important to you?
TA: It really is. I think it draws a lot more attention and excitement to the game. It's a lot more to it than just fighting. I just don't want it to turn into a WWE thing or, you know, wrestling, because when we were all kids we used to think that stuff was real. But it gives credit to see how real MMA is.
CD: You got a lot of Redskins fans out there and UCLA fans that talk to you. If they come up to you and said, ‘Terrence, you know, I'm a football guy, I don't really know anything about this MMA' and they were interested in it, what would you tell them? What would you tell a fan that came up to you and wanted to try out Mixed Martial Arts? What advice could you give them?
TA: I would tell them that they would have to be prepared for that, ‘cause it's going to be tough. And you know football is a tough sport, but you don't wear any gear in MMA. It's all about being tough, and if you're disciplined enough to be able to work that out, then you will be just fine. I would definitely encourage it.
CD: What would you tell a football fan that asked you, ‘Why would I like watching Mixed Martial Arts on TV? I like watching football, what is it about MMA that I would like watching?'
TA: It's contact, it's contact. Everybody likes the big hits in football, they want to see that big crack-back block, they want to see somebody run across the middle as a receiver and get taken out by a defensive back or a linebacker. Everybody likes those big contact hits, and in MMA you see that every single second of the fight.