Walker Realistic About MMA Stint, Wants to Help Grow Sport
Herschel Walker | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
At 48, Herschel Walker is in better shape than many fighters half his age. The 1982 Heisman Trophy winner-turned-heavyweight mixed martial artist dominated his second opponent at Strikeforce “Diaz vs. Cyborg” on Saturday, pounding out Scott Carson in just over three minutes at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
Yet, Walker has no lofty ambitions in the sport. He has no interest in throwing his name into the alternate mix for Strikeforce’s upcoming heavyweight grand prix. He simply wants to compete, he says, and to serve as an ambassador for the sport once his brief fighting stint is through.
“Honestly, I wanted to do one fight,” Walker said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “I’m older, and this is a young person’s sport. If I can help people recognize the sport, that’s great. I think these guys deserve more than what they’re getting.”
Walker is almost certainly attracting some additional eyeballs to Strikeforce. Prior to his fight with Carson, the Wrightsville, Ga., native partook in a solo media conference call which spawned false rumors of his getting back on the gridiron. He made the rounds on talk shows and podcasts, promoting the Showtime-televised card and detailing his passion for MMA.
During those appearances, Walker obliged even the most mundane questions about Super Bowl predictions. But there is one thing he does not care to discuss any further.
“Everybody talks about my age. Let’s put that to rest. If you got a 20-year-old who wanna run me in the [40-yard dash], we’ll do that,” said Walker, who has stated that he recorded an impressive 4.38-second dash last February. “Everybody talks about 48, but I think I’m in just as good a shape as at 20 or 30 years old. Somebody posted a tape on my Twitter of me working with some kids. I look exactly the same in 1983 as I look today. My guns got a little bit bigger, but I look the same.”
Many MMA fans and pundits were dubious of Walker when he first entered the cage in January 2010. Among them was Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, who insisted that Walker join up with famed California gym American Kickboxing Academy prior to his debut. However, it has become clear that Walker, with his unique charisma and winning personality, could be something more to the sport than a fleeting curiosity.
“I gotta thank Scott. He’s not here for a sideshow. He put me in there with someone with equal talent. I don’t need to prove anything,” said Walker.
Asked what he does hope to accomplish during his time as a fighter, Walker smiled and turned to Coker on the dais.
“Can you give me a belt for being the oldest fighter?” he asked.
Jordan Breen contributed to this report.