Edmonton Sun by Jonathan Hunington

It’s one of the more dangerous offseason gigs a football player could accept – but Mike Maurer couldn’t be happier.

The Outstanding Canadian from the Edmonton Eskimos’ Grey Cup victory has signed a deal to fight in a mixed martial arts bout on an upcoming card at the Shaw Conference Centre.

“I am very excited. It has been something I have been waiting for,” said Maurer, “for the last three seasons actually.”

Mixed martial arts is a combination of several fighting skills, including karate, kickboxing and wrestling in a normal boxing ring. The fighters wear four-ounce gloves, but not head gear.

Obviously, it’s a dangerous sport, but Maurer believes football carries a bigger risk.

“I don’t think you can be seriously injured in the sport like you can in football,” he said from his home in Regina.

“I see the possible scenario as maybe breaking a bone in your hand (in a fight). But there is not as many guys getting knocked unconscious or getting a concussion or blowing your ACL (in fighting) like in football.”

Head coach Danny Maciocia is aware of the fight, but the Eskimos aren’t stepping in the way.

And Maurer doesn’t believe the bout will violate any terms of his contract.

His opponent hasn’t been named, but the scrap will be the headline event on the Maximum Fighting Challenge IX card on March 10.

Needless to say, it’s a fight promoter’s dream.

“I almost fell off the couch,” said Mark Pavelich, the owner/president of the Maximum Fighting Championship, “when I heard on the Grey Cup broadcast that Maurer had aspirations of being an ultimate fighter.”

It was that mention on the CBC broadcast that eventually led to Pavelich contacting Maurer.

The nine-year CFL fullback is thinking of a post-football career in mixed martial arts fighting and practically jumped at Pavelich’s offer.

“Stepping in the ring this off-season is like for some people going to firefighter college or going to university or doing whatever they need to do to prepare themselves for a career after football,” Maurer explained.

The rush of the sport, the physical nature and the one-on-one battles are the current drawing cards – but the potential of huge paydays down the road is definitely in his mind.

“If I reach the potential I think I can, guys in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship in the United States) and Pride (Japan organization) are making six figures a year,” he explained.

The 30-year-old Saskatchewan native will begin serious training in January, but Pavelich is already thinking big.

“This might come back on me, but this guy is a future superstar in mixed martial arts,” said Pavelich, “and I base that on his athleticism.”