Former NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman signed a deal with the World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation on Wednesday, according to ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto.
Merriman said the following about his decision to try his hand at combat sports: "Right now, this is the best opportunity for what I want to do. I've been kicking tires for years; this is a good place for me to start. I'm looking forward to having some fun out there. I get to train for the next six to eight weeks and go show everyone what I can do."
The current plan is for Merriman to compete in a bare-knuckle boxing match later this year at an event in Casper, Wyoming, which will air on pay-per-view.
WBKFF CEO Tom Stankiewicz also commented on signing Merriman: "We are thrilled to have Shawne as part of our team. Shawne was a proven warrior on the field, and we look forward to seeing him in the ring. We feel 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's sport."
The 34-year-old Merriman spent eight seasons in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills, last playing in 2012.
The 2005 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year was a Pro Bowler in each of his first three seasons and led the NFL in sacks with 17 in 2006.
After registering 39.5 sacks in his first three seasons combined, Merriman had a total of just 6.0 sacks over his final five seasons, which consisted of just 33 games.