Former NFL DE Marcellus Wiley: 'MMA Is More Difficult Than Football'

Jordy McElroyCorrespondent IJanuary 6, 2013

Life on the gridiron may be tough, but it pales in comparison to stepping into the cage, according to Marcellus Wiley.

The former defensive end spent 10 seasons battling it out in the trenches in the NFL.

Nothing comes easy as a professional football player, especially when you're constantly competing against the best athletes in the world. Luckily, football is a sport where you have teammates to rely on.

MMA fighters aren't given that luxury. The coldest reality in fighting is that it is an incredibly lonely sport. Fighters often endure a fierce psychological battle of fear and uncertainty before stepping into the cage.

There aren't any teammates to pick up the slack or pass blame on. In MMA, the onus falls completely on your shoulders alone. Few people have the sniper-like mentality required to be an MMA fighter.

As Wiley so eloquently puts it, "It's a hard way to pay the bills."

"[MMA] is even more difficult than football," Wiley said in an interview with Spencer Lazara of MMAinterviews.TV. "At least I can rely on teammates, you're in there by yourself."

Wiley was on-hand at "Lights Out Promotions: Chaos at the Casino 2" to watch his friend and former football player Demian "Fatback" Marzett make his pro debut.

The experience has given him an opportunity to live vicariously through Marzett and gain a better understanding and appreciation for MMA fighters. Despite his love for the sport, Wiley doesn't plan on putting on a pair of four ounce gloves anytime soon.

He has worked on his striking with beloved boxing coach Freddie Roach, but he suspects he wouldn't last five seconds in the cage.

I'm trying to look the part, but I can't do it. They would wear me out in about five seconds...If you can be great and pound-for-pound one of the best in [MMA], you are a man amongst men, and I respect that.

When you play football, you have to do a lot of things to keep yourself in shape and conditioning, but one of the things you do is try boxing and try MMA and you realize that three minute round or that five minute round in MMA is the most difficult thing you could do in your life. I'd rather see a 400-pound offensive tackle than a 200-pound man fighting me for four minutes.