He went from NFL-bound Racer to NFL defensive end to “the guy who lost to Greg Hardy on Dana White’s Contender Series.” Having gone under the radar for the past few years, Austen Lane looks a lot more like a fighter and lot less like the guy who “used to be.”
At 4-0, Lane made his DWCS walk to the cage, where he would lose to fellow NFLer turned MMA prospect Hardy.
Lane was caught early and never to be heard from again. The NFL to UFC heavyweight path stopped with his one chance and now he could get back to his regular life. Problem is, Lane isn’t the typical NFL veteran looking to turn his size and physicality into success as “the next best thing.” After a very real moment in Lane’s life, he decided he was going to be a respected fighter come hell or high water.
“Back in 2014 on December 31 I found myself in a small bar in Central Wisconsin when I got cut by the Chicago Bears for the second time,” Lane said. “I was down and defeated because I had to have that hard conversation with myself that I couldn’t play the game of football anymore because you’re not good enough. When you’re kind of in limbo trying to figure out what you can do, I knew MMA was in my back pocket. I made a decision right there that starting in the new year I was going to be an MMA fighter and I was going to make it to the highest level that I can make it to and that’s the UFC.”
The loss to Hardy was the first loss and large setback of Lane’s career, and had he been “playing the game” this whole time, the casual viewer may have watched, as Lane has gone on a 6-2 run since DWCS. But he’s not that fighter now and not going to be.
“If you can go out there and show off your skills and it’s coming from a place of hard work and a spot of putting the grind in, I think you can earn people’s respect,” Lane said. “I think people are so hip to the game in terms of gimmicks. We live in a time now where it’s all about getting on the microphone or getting on Instagram and talking s*** and getting known from that. That’s fine, it gets people to know who you are, but in terms of longevity, how long is it going to last?”
Dallas,TX we are back with another banger of an event! The Hwy title is on the line as the Champ @A_Train_92 defends his strap against Eric Lunsford! Co- Main event features @thebutchercutts and BJJ black belt @smashbjj Subscribe to @ufcfightpass now to watch all the action! pic.twitter.com/m625XsXiqw— Fury FC (@FuryFightingTX) February 11, 2022
Lane isn’t out to criticize fighters’ way of making a name for themselves. He’s not saying that because he opts to make noise in the cage that other fighters are wrong for having an active social media game. He just knows what fighters he’s drawn to and what he wants to be viewed as.
“I think diehards still respect guys like Anderson Silva and Chuck Liddell because they’re fighters’ fighters,” Lane said. “There’s still some of those guys like that out there now, but they’re trying to parlay that now with their mic skills and Instagram skills and I think people can see right through that.”
Even going back to the days of his first MMA bouts, the shortcuts to attention have never been Lane’s thing. It would have been easy to point to his NFL success as a reason for fans to tune in back in 2017, but it didn’t interest Lane then and it doesn’t interest him now.
“I always got a little, I don’t want to say offended, but I always got rubbed the wrong way when I would fight for promotions and the very first thing they would say about me was, ‘We’ve got former player, Austen Lane,’” Lane explained. “I don’t want to be ‘former’ anything; I just want to be current. I understand that me playing in the National Football League is going to bring me some sort of notoriety, but I never try to use that to build a fight.”
Now at 10-3 professionally, Lane has amped up his training, mindset and opposition.
His most recent win over UFC veteran Juan Adams serves as the most realistic benchmark for where Lane’s skill set lies. He’s no longer the NFL player and he’s no longer “the guy who lost to Greg Hardy.”
Austen Lane is the knockout artist who feels he’s on the doorstep of the UFC and not stopping until he gets there.
Catch the return of Austen Lane at Fury FC 58, LIVE, Sunday, February 27, ONLY on UFC FIGHT PASS!