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Former NFL All-Pro set to make MMA debut this Saturday in New Jersey

20010716jhhaselrig.jpg has a writeup on former Washington wide receiver Michael Westbrook training in mixed martial arts in Arizona.

Westbrook is infamous for using his background in traditional martial arts to basically assaulted running back Stephen Davis during a practice while both were with Washington.

Interestingly enough, it just so happens that another former NFL player will be making his professional mixed martial arts debut this weekend in New Jersey.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro guard Carlton Haselrig is slated to main event this Saturday’s Battle Cage Xtreme show in Atlantic City at the Tropicana Hotel Resort and Casino against former IFL heavyweight Shane Ott.

There’s a really good article in the Tribune-Democrat that gives some really good background info on Haselrig. On the field, the guy was a stud but off of it, he had quite a few problems such as drug suspensions, arrests, convictions, and ultimately prison time.

In fact, Haselrig spent nearly a year in prison a couple of years ago after being convicted on a domestic abuse charge. Haselrig is now a free man and is back with his wife and looking to put the pieces of his life back together. He claims he’s involved with MMA not because he’s looking for another paycheck, but because he enjoys the challenge.

And a challenge it will be for Haselrig. While he was once a world class athlete who was a standout wrestler having won six titles while at Pitt-Johnston in the late 80’s, the fact remains that he’s 42 years of age and still relatively new to MMA. The decision for him to also debut vs. a fighter the caliber of Ott also might be overly-ambitious.

I met Ott during the IFL Draft tryouts in New York last October. At the time, he was still on the IFL roster and was helping out as a referee. Despite his intimidating look, I found him to be an extremely nice guy.

Having seen him fight, I can tell you that he’s no joke. He’s a tremendous wrestler who has the ability to really take a fighter out of their comfort zone. Ott was brought in by the IFL as a last-minute replacement during it’s April show in Connecticut last year.

I don’t think many people were expecting Ott to be able to come in and beat Chad Griggs on short notice but he shocked a lot of people when he submitted Griggs with a Kimura at just 1:09 of round 1. Ott fought for the IFL against last June in Vegas, and took the promotion’s current heavyweight champion Roy Nelson to a decision.

Ott also comes from a really strong camp in the Anthracite Combat Club, which is also where Jon Murphy, Jim Bova, and Diego Jimenez train as well.

I think people should really keep their eye on Ott. His fight Saturday vs. Haselrig is garnering some attention and a high-profile win by Ott could earn him a big opportunity with a national promotion.

For those interested in attending the show, just click here to go to the Battle Cage Xtreme web site.

Photo used from this article originally taken by John Heller for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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