Everyone knows football players are strong, tough, and athletic; they are modern-day gladiators. That doesn’t necessarily mean all of them could win a street fight. Or get into the UFC Octagon and walk out unscathed.
MMA fighters are a different breed, although there are plenty examples of NFL stars who have successfully crossed over. With that idea in mind, Adam H. Beasley of Pro Football Network took a crack at predicting which current players might be able to make the UFC jump.
Aaron Donald made his eight-man list. Ditto for DK Metcalf. Duh. However, there was one name that no one expected to see: K’Von Wallace of the Philadelphia Eagles.
The fourth-round pick out of Clemson has served mostly as a special-teams player over his first two NFL seasons. Don’t be fooled. Wallace has a lot of potential – he’ll compete for a starting safety spot this year at training camp – and his athleticism is off the charts.
He’s not the league’s biggest safety, but Wallace is certainly among the most athletic. He ran in the low-4.5s coming out of Clemson and his agility measurables were off the charts.
Plus with a 38-inch vertical jump, he’s got serious spring in his step.
But can he fight? He’s certainly been trained. Wallace boxes in the offseason — a hobby inspired by Blazers guard Damian Lillard.
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Wallace Mastered the Art of Trash-Talking
Wallace got into a verbal altercation with Cam Newton during a joint practice with the New England Patriots in 2021. He thought Newton was relying on too many checkdowns, so he let the veteran quarterback know. Newton didn’t like it and fired back at Wallace by calling him “glitter.” It was all in good fun.
“I’m just aggressive in my approach to the game, whoever I go against. I feel like whoever is the opposition I’m going to do my best to get in their head, to say what I need to say and do what I need to do,” Wallace told reporters. “To beat ’em, to win, and I felt like at the time, there was a lot of checkdowns going on. I had to let him know like not only is he doing checkdowns he’s doing it over and over again like you mastered it, you the king of it … so I had to let him know you can’t check down. But anytime you can get in the quarterback’s head, that’s what you’re supposed to do, to say whatever and mean what you say.”
Eagles Starting Safety Spot Up for Grabs
Marcus Epps will have the first opportunity to win the starting safety spot alongside Anthony Harris at training camp. The Eagles have been hyping Epps up all year. It’s definitely his job to lose. But Wallace will get his turn to impress. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon mentioned him by name.
“Anthony [Harris] obviously coming back and Marcus [Epps] playing a lot of snaps for us last year, K’Von [Wallace], Dre [Andre Chachere], Jared [Mayden], I feel really good about that room,” Gannon said. “Everything that I look for in a safety, all those guys in that room have those qualities. Really have to put the work in and then see where it goes.”