Whether it be First Take on ESPN2, or in the “jungle” of the Jim Rome Show , Herschel Walker has handled a tough situation with nothing but grace.
When Dana White called his upcoming fight with Greg Nagy a “freak show,” Walker sidestepped the issue curtly. When MMA purists like myself piled on, insisting the fight be removed from the card, he's been nothing but respectful to the company that gave him the chance and the people who've criticized him.
In short, the manner in which he's made his rounds I guess has won me over a bit.
It's a tough position to be put in, but his background, and name have earned him that initial shot, and if Brock Lesnar can get a fight with Frank Mir as a co-Main Event, in his debut, Walker can open a Showtime show for Strikeforce in his.
Will he be the lead headline in the news articles after the fact? Probably. Will he overshadow a women's bout far more important? Absolutely. Will he wash out of the sport quickly? Of this I'm almost certain.
However in spite of these mortal locks, I feel he deserves his shot to get in the cage on Jan. 30, for some of the same reasons Ron Van Clief climbed into the octagon all those years ago.
The question I want to ask however is this.
What happens after the fight?
If he wins impressively, obviously CBS is going to want to have him on the Spring card, and that will be another somewhat smaller controversy. However, is one that will largely blow over.
What if he wins ugly? What If Nagy exposes some obvious flaw that becomes crystal clear to the public, but wins anyway?
In this scenario, CBS is still going to want him, and Walker will face the flames of the MMA media fire every day until show time.
He would still likely draw the hardcore NFL fan interested in how he does, which if the 23.9 Nielsen, the Vikings-Cowboys game did in the overnights is any indication, that's going to be a colossal number by MMA standards.
The purists will throw up their pitchforks and light their torches, but they'll probably watch anyway.
Then again, what if he loses a close decision? He's a debuting fighter; history is rife with talents that dropped their first fights. Chris Cyborg, for example was leg locked by Erica Paes in her first fight.
Does he get another fight on a challenger series show? Should he? Would it really be worth it to rehabilitate a 47-year-old fighter?
And even if he, by some miracle, is a great fighter. How long can he possibly fight?
Where he goes from there is anyone's guess, but Herschel probably hasn't thought much about that.
He's probably wrestled with the ramifications of this decision far longer than we have, and has come to the conclusion that he can live with what we'll call him if he fails.
However, he couldn't live with himself if he never tried. Even if he maybe nothing more than Don Quixote charging at windmills on premium television.
Any way it turns out will probably make for decent theater, and compelling television. Which is fine by me.