Former NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman has signed a contract with the World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation to participate in a match this year.
He has hinted previously about his interest in combat sports. But instead of mixed martial arts, Merriman has chosen bare-knuckle fighting.
"Right now, this is the best opportunity for what I want to do," Merriman said in a statement to ESPN. "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."
No date or opponent has been set for Merriman's first bout, but a site has been announced. It will take place in Casper, Wyo., and is expected to be broadcast via pay-per-view online.
"We are thrilled to have Shawne as part of our team," said WBKFF CEO Tom Stankiewicz, according to ESPN. "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."
In June, an event called the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship became the first state-sanctioned bare-knuckle boxing event in U.S. history. It took place in Cheyenne, Wyo.