Is Herschel Walker A Real Mixed Martial Artist?
At 48, Is Walker Too Old To Make It As A Mixed Martial Artist?
1981 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Allen has served as a football analyst most of his post-football life. 1983 Heisman winner Mike Rozier has established a career in public speaking and appearances. So where is the player that hoisted the trophy in 1982? After retiring in 1997, Herschel Walker spent the next decade dabbling in different fields such as professing his born-again Christian beliefs and appearing as a contestant on the third season of Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice.
In late 2007, Walker, a fifth-degree black belt in tae kwon do, announced his intentions to compete on a mixed martial arts-related reality show, at the end of which he would compete in his first career MMA bout. Nothing ever came of the rumored television program, which was also to feature Jose Canseco, but the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner didn't lose his interest in the sport.
In September 2009, Strikeforce CEO and founder Scott Coker announced the football legend would make his long-awaited debut under his company's banner as a heavyweight fighter. The already martial arts-savvy Walker then engaged himself in an intense 12-week training program with the American Kickboxing Academy's Bob Cook. After some time, Hungarian fighter Greg Nagy was confirmed as Walker's first opponent.
The bout took place on January 30, 2010, with former University of Georgia star running back dominating his opponent to an eventual third round TKO victory in his rookie fight. In the fight, Walker displayed a noticeable understanding of the sport and superior conditioning. His impeccable physical fitness was indeed beyond compare as he was able to wear down Nagy with solid striking and wrestling for the entirety of the 12 minute fight.
Not only did he show potential in the fight, the 47-year old, who has had a birthday since, also proved his everlasting athletic ability and dedication to competition.
Walker is arguably one of the greatest all-around athletes to ever play a professional sport. While most people known him for his Heisman campaign and his incredible NFL career, during which he earned 18, 168 all-purpose yards, he nearly made the Olympic sprint relay team, competed as bobsledder in the 1992 Winter Olympics, won back-to-back Superstars events in America, and as already mentioned, has earned a fifth-degree black belt in tae kwon do.
Despite his impressive debut, though, many still doubt Herschel Walker has any real future or assessable potential in mixed martial arts. Citing sub-par competition in his first fight, his critics claim that the retired gridiron legend is too reliant on his conditioning and strength to have any significant success in the cage.
Without diligent training in wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and boxing, the nay-sayers may have a valid argument. Without a strong basis in grappling and striking, climbing Strikeforce's heavyweight ladder will definitely be an up-hill battle.
Some critics, such as the always outspoken MMA legend Don Frye, even go as far as saying Walker is an embarrassment to the fighting industry.
In all fairness, is Walker actually destined to be a failure? While the 48-year old is assuredly not the most experienced or well-rounded fighter, his stellar physical fitness has to count for something in an increasingly athletic sport. Combine that with unyielding dedication, which he has exemplified throughout his entire athletic career, and there is almost no chance Walker's foray into MMA turns out to be a complete bust.
As for developing discipline and competency in various martial arts, under the tutelage head trainer Bob Cook and the rest of the AKA staff, Walker should gradually begin to show improvement in most aspects of his game.
I believe that, ultimately, the determining factor in the outcome of the Heisman winner's career will be the manner that Strikeforce chooses to handle him.
After defeating the relatively inexperienced Greg Nagy in his MMA debut, Coker recently announced Walker's next opponent as Scott Carson in a bout that was scheduled for December 4, 2010. However, in the run up to the bout, Walker received a cut that required seven stitches. As a result, he was pulled from the card and fight may take place early in 2011.
Still, I applaud Strikeforce's founder for picking Carson, another inexperienced fighter, as Walker's second opponent. For Herschel to have a legitimate shot at ascending to the top of the company's heavyweight ranks, timing and allowing Walker to mature in the cage will be key.
If he is not rushed into a bout with top-level talent like Daniel Cormier and Alistair Overeem, there is definite hope for his Strikeforce career.
Regardless of his performance in the next few fights, there will still be countless doubters who state Walker is merely a sideshow in mixed martial arts that will be outmatched sooner rather than later.
I would disagree with that assumption. If Herschel Walker is given time to sharpen his basic martial arts skills and gain quality cage experience, he could establish a respectable and memorable mixed martial arts career. Whether or not you believe Herschel Walker is a serious fighter or not, it is nearly impossible not be intrigued by his future outings in the cage.