Ex Jaguars DL Austen Lane has successfully carved a niche in MMA following NFL career

Austen Lane (red glove tape), a former Jacksonville Jaguars player, defeated Graceville's Cameron.
Austen Lane (red glove tape), a former Jacksonville Jaguars player, defeated Graceville's Cameron. / Brian Miller/Democrat via Imagn Content

Some NFL players struggle to find their footing once they hang up the cleats but former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Austen Lane has successfully carved a niche in Mixed Martial Arts. After working his way up in the MMA circles, he's now set to face Justin Tafa in UFC on ABC 5.

This will be Lane's 16 professional fight and will be making his debut at UFC, having earned a contract after beating Richard Jacoby by technical knockout in Dana White's contender series. His upcoming bout will be held in Jacksonville, where he played his first three NFL seasons after being selected in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. Lane played with the Detroit Lions in 2013 and worked out for the Chicago Bears in 2014 before announcing his retirement the following year.

Lane then took up MMAA at an amateur level. He had five fights (he won all of them) before making his professional debut in 2017. Heading into his bout against Tafa, Lane said in an exchange with the media that it's great to be back to where it all started, "To fight in Jacksonville, where my book really started here, playing football and now another sport, it's awesome", via Grant Gordon of NFL Media.

During his pre-fight presser, Lane says that there might be a few Jaguars players to come watch him, noting that he's still friends with "some of the guys that are currently on the team, so maybe they're going to pull up".

UFC on ABC 5's main card will be at 3:00 p.m. ET and you can watch it on AFC. If you want to watch it online, ESPN+ will be streaming it.

Former Jaguars DE Austen Lane is doing well after his NFL career

An NFL career averages around 3.5 years, and some players have a hard time finding something to fill the void once their playing days are over. Others though have succeeded after calling it quits. Terry Crews, an 11th-round pick by the Los Angeles Rams in 1991, has gone on to have a fruitful acting career. Lane has found a niche in MAA but he's not the only former NFL player that has stepped foot on the octagon.

Former Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy gave boxing and MMA a shot. The late Kimbo Slice worked out for the Miami Dolphins in 1997 and was in their pre-season practice squad. Herschel Walker also had a few fights, so Lane's career path isn't particularly unique. The difference might be that Lane has become a fan favorite and a local icon in Jacksonville after suiting up for the Black and Teal. And that's the thing Jaguars/Duval fans will always back up their own and will be rooting for them.

Even though Blake Bortles ended up flopping, he's still well-liked. The same is true for fellow signal-caller Gardner Minshew, who made waves in his rookie year, despite the fact that he's now with the Indianapolis Colts.

Lane's NFL career didn't probably go the way he planned but that didn't stop him from grinding. All that work has paid off and just like the Jacksonville Jaguars, he's having a pretty good year.

Here are other Jaguars stories from June 19-23 that you might also like: