You might have heard that MMA legend Chuck Liddell trained with the Cleveland Browns this week.
It’s just another event that collectively has made the Browns appear to be growing into something of a big deal. They are a surging media presence after their second-straight highly-covered draft class that was headlined by Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 pick. They’ll have their training camp and preseason aired for the world to see on HBO in August as this year’s Hard Knocks team. The team is, at least from a public interest perspective, rising. So Liddell coming to train with them seems like a big story.
While it is something different and probably something worth noting given Liddell’s success as a mixed martial artist, it is not something new. NFL players have been utilizing MMA training and concepts for over a decade. In 2007, ESPN reported former San Diego Chargers fullback Lorenzo Neal had trained with Liddell for multiple years prior to that writing. Even back then, offensive linemen, receivers, defensive linemen, kickers, and others were shifting toward the MMA sphere while looking to build competitive advantages.
Liddell summed up his purpose in training with the Browns, saying that although “body-on-body contact” and “balance stuff” were part of it, his bigger focus is individuals’ mental approach.
“You’re fighting the guy in front of you. You’re trying to break him mentally and physically,” the former multiple-time UFC Light Heavyweight Champion said. “It’s a fight, this is not just a game, and we’re fighting to win.”
Mentality is everything, especially for a young team that hasn’t had much success. If Liddell can help in changing each player’s perspective of the game on a micro level, to focus on each player’s individual battles, then the week he spent with them will have been well worth it.