October 5, 2023 8:00 am ET
Shawne Merriman wants his Lights Out Xtreme Fighting promotion to be a home for notable athletes transitioning into combat sports to get their feet wet in MMA.
Merriman, a retired multi-time NFL Pro Bowl linebacker, will put on his 11th MMA event as a promoter on Saturday. The card takes place at Thunder Studio in Long Beach, Calif., and streams on Fubo Sports. Tickets are still available via the organization’s website.
As he continues to get further into his tenure of running events, Merriman has a vision for Lights Out Xtreme Fighting. In addition to being a place for prospects and rising stars to get experience as they work toward a UFC career, he sees it as a home for fighters who made their name in football, basketball or other notable sports to make the move into MMA. And he teases a number are on the way.
“We’re having more of these former athletes to make that transition,” Merriman told MMA Junkie. “I was talking to Le’Veon Bell the other day. I talked a little bit with Frank Gore. A lot of these guys are coming over to combat sports and we’re going to be announcing some big former athletes here shortly that are going to be fighting that was in the XFL, that was in the NFL, that are now saying, ‘My time is up playing football.’ We’re going to announce a few big fights here shortly.”
Merriman, 39, has been a longtime fan of MMA and has even flirted with the idea of competing himself in recent years. He thinks he’s best served as a promoter, however, and using the cache he’s accrued from his NFL career to put the spotlight on the fighters.
Lights Out Xtreme Fighting 11 is the best card Merriman and his team have put together to date, he said, with six-time UFC veteran and three-time Bellator veteran Albert Morales set to headline against Musa Toliver.
“This is our biggest card we’ve had,” Merriman said. “We have the next up-and-coming superstars. I want to keep getting behind these guys and promoting them and bringing some of these football eyes. I’ve been playing football my whole life. I’ve played on the biggest stage, which is the NFL, in this country. A lot of people who followed my football career get to see what we’re doing at Lights Out Xtreme Fighting.”
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