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Former NFL All-Pro Shawne Merriman to make combat sports debut in bare knuckle boxing match

Philadelphia Eagles v Buffalo Bills
Shawne Merriman has signed with World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation.
Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Having long flirted with combat sports, ex-NFL All-Pro linebacker Shawne Merriman will at last make his in-ring debut later this year in a bare knuckle boxing match at the inaugural World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation event, “Rise of the Titans,” in Casper, Wyoming.

WBKFF officials announced the news of Merriman’s signing Wednesday.

“We are thrilled to have Shawne as part of our team,” WBKFF CEO Tom Stankiewicz said in a statement. “It’s a very exciting time for everyone. Shawne was a proven warrior on the field and we look forward to seeing him in the ring. We feel that Shawne’s signing with WBKFF opens the doors to champions from all sports and shows that he has the guts and courage to step into this gladiator sport. Bare knuckle fighting is the combat sport for the 21st century. We welcome Shawne as part of our family!”

“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!”

A 34-year-old former linebacker, Merriman played eight seasons in the NFL between 2005 and 2012 for the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills, racking up three Pro Bowl selections during his time in the league and becoming a three-time NFL All-Pro. Merriman has long teased the possibility of competing in mixed martial arts and has made several promotional appearances for Bellator MMA. Now, the 6-foot-4 Merriman will debut as a heavyweight in a bare-knuckle boxing match against an opponent to be named later.

WBKFF: Rise of the Titans takes place at the Casper Events Center in Casper, Wyoming and will air live on pay-per-view. A date has yet to be finalized, although Oct. 20 has been discussed.

A matchup between UFC veterans Chris Leben and Phil Baroni for the WBKFF light heavyweight title also has been announced for the event, which will additionally feature the launching of a $100,000 eight-man tournament featuring the likes of Melvin Guillard, Tom Gallicchio, Josh Neer, Isaac Vallie-Flagg, and Joey Bryant.

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