This Saturday will mark the second fight in the professional mixed martial arts career of football legend Herschel Walker as he steps back into the cage at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg.
His first fight came nearly a year ago on Jan. 30, 2010 when he defeated fellow MMA newcomer Greg Nady. Of course, the biggest difference between their lack of experience was that while Nady had fought twice prior to his Strikeforce appearance against Walker, he was also 20 years younger.
Walker dominated the fight, eventually winning by TKO due to strikes in the third round. The strong appearance helped solidify the thought that Walker was willing to take the sport seriously.
Now 48 years old, Herschel Walker will face Scott Carson (4-1) in a heavyweight bout that fans and experts alike are looking forward to. Walker is still in incredible physical shape and while he may not be the most experienced fighter who will be performing on Saturday night, it will be interesting to see how he has progressed over the year since his first fight.
His detractors claim that Walker is too far past his physical prime and that he is nothing more than a freak show at this point. UFC President Dana White even went as far to say that Walker’s appearance in Strikeforce was, “completely disrespectful to the sport."
But the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner is no stranger to controversy and he would not let others get him down. Walker has been training in Tae Kwon Do and other martial arts for 33 years now. He has also been training for this fight with American Kickboxing Academy, the home of many of the world’s top fighters including former Strikeforce champions Cung Le and Josh Thompson as well as UFC stars Cain Velasquez, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, and Mike Swick.
If Walker has been training as hard as he claims he has been, this fight against Scott Carson may be more one-sided than it appears on the surface. Carson has five professional fights but lost his last fight by knockout back in June of 2010—his first fight since 2001.
If Walker can win this fight, the hype should only grow around him as he looks to his third fight.
The MMA community has been buzzing about who Walker’s next opponent could be but here’s a quick look at five of the most intriguing opponents that Walker could face in his third professional fight.
The first name on the list as a potentially exciting fight for Herschel Walker is former boxing champion James “Lights Out” Toney.
Having fought at and was a champion in the Middleweight, Super Middleweight, and Cruiserweight divisions before defeating former champion Evander Holyfield when he joined the heavyweight division.
Toney eventually defeated John Ruiz in April of 2005 to become the World Boxing Association heavyweight champion. Unfortunately it was later reported that he failed his post-fight drug test and the fight was changed to a no contest. He did become the International Boxing Association heavyweight champion in Dec. 2008—a title he still owns.
His start in mixed martial arts came in Jan. 2010 when he faced the legendary Randy Couture. Toney went into the fight with the intention of standing up with the former UFC champion, but was easily brought to the ground early in the first round and submitted by arm triangle at 3:19 in the first round. Toney was quickly released from his contract by the UFC.
While he didn’t last long in the UFC and looked pretty foolish in the process, Randy Couture is not exactly an easy first fight. Toney, now 42 years old, would likely have a better chance against a less experienced fighter like Herschel Walker.
Needless to say, a fight between a former football and boxing legend would bring a great deal of attention to whatever MMA company is gutsy enough to air the altercation.
Questions surrounding Herschel Walker’s second fight began to circulate not long after the former Heisman Trophy winner won his first bout. Though quite a few names were thrown around, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker admitted recently that the organization was attempting to put together fights with two MMA legends.
"We were talking about [Walker] actually fighting Don Frye at one point or Mark Coleman,” Coker said on an episode of The MMA Hour.
The plans were later scrapped, according to Coker, when the company talked to AKA representatives who told them that Walker wasn’t quite ready for a fight of that magnitude.
It’s understandable that the 48 year old wouldn’t be ready to face such strong competition in just his second fight, but that doesn’t mean that the fight won’t eventually happen. In fact, Coker went on to mention that both Javier Mendez and Bob Cook thought that a fight against that level of competition may be possible a few months down the road, likely in his third professional fight.
Frye’s last fight came in Sept. 2009, a first round TKO loss to the 26 year old Dave Herman (20-2). He has lost three of his last five fights but is always a fan favorite and, at 45 years old, would be an interesting legend for Walker to battle.
There may not be a person in the sports world that more fans want to see get punched in the mouth than baseball legend and admitted steroid user Jose Canseco.
Canseco, a black belt in karate and Tae Kwon Do, made his mixed martial arts debut at Dream 9 in May of 2009. Though he lost the fight by TKO in the first round due to punches, Canseco was massively undersized against the giant that was his opponent, the 7’2”, 350 pound Hong Man Choi.
In Feb. 2010, Canseco challenged Walker to a fight on his Twitter page. Walker was quick to respond.
"Jose wants to do this for money," he told the Bob and Dan radio show. If "he wants to fight me and he thinks it's going to be a circus, I will hurt him. This is not a joke, I will hurt him, because I don't do things as a joke.... This MMA fighting, is real. You can get hurt, and he doesn't understand it."
At 6’4” himself, Canseco is a large man whose experience in various martial arts would be an interesting challenge for Herschel Walker in his third fight. Certainly Canseco isn’t on the level of any skilled MMA fighter, but the football vs. baseball aspect to the fight may bring an interesting dynamic to a fight between two men in their late 40’s.
Former WWE champion Dave Bautista, better known by his in-ring name Batista, left the company in May 2010. It took less than a month before he showed up in attendance at the Strikeforce: Los Angeles event in June 2010. Just five days later, Batista announced to TMZ.com that he was pursuing a career in mixed martial arts.
Even bigger news came in Oct. 2010 when he announced that he was very close to signing a deal with Strikeforce.
"We're real close. We actually agreed on a number last week and we're sorting stuff out," Bautista told DC 101 in radio interview. "We should have a deal real soon. Hopefully I'll be fighting in March."
Though the obvious fight for Batista would be fellow Strikeforce heavyweight and former WWE star Bobby Lashley, a bout with Herschel Walker may also draw quite a bit of interest. Both fighters are in their 40’s but both are also in incredible physical shape with little professional mixed martial arts training. Still, a potential fight between the two would be an excellent co-main event for a Strikeforce event.
Call it stupid, call it the ultimate freak show, call it whatever you want—but Herschel Walker and Kimbo Slice fighting in a cage would certainly create some much-needed attention for the Strikeforce brand.
While Slice has apparently decided to give up on his boxing career to pursue professional wrestling, a decent sized pay day for an MMA fight with Herschel Walker may be just the kind of thing that would get him back into a cage.
Slice competed on the UFC reality series The Ultimate Fighter where he was defeated by eventual winner Roy Nelson in the second round of their fight by TKO. In his first fight with UFC, Slice defeated Houston Alexander by unanimous decision before being hammered in another second-round TKO loss by Matt Mitrione in his second fight. Slice was cut from the UFC just days later.
There certainly isn’t the fanfare surrounding Kimbo Slice that there was when he started fighting in EliteXC back in Nov. 2007, but there is still enough that many fans would likely tune in to watch the craziness of a Herschel Walker and Kimbo Slice fight.
Whether it’s the legendary Fedor Emelianenko, the backyard brawler Kimbo Slice, or a host of other MMA stars, the President of the UFC, Dana White, is not shy about bashing the fighters in other companies.
When asked about Herschel Walker, Dana White has repeatedly verbally assaulted the former NFL great. Prior to his first fight, White exclaimed that Strikeforce wouldn’t even be able to find an opponent for him.
"Which athletic commission is going to let this guy fight?" White asked. "Who the f**k are they going to find to fight Herschel Walker? A guy in a wheelchair?"
It turns out that he was partially right, as Greg Nady certainly didn’t look like much of a challenge. The berating didn’t stop there as White was asked about the potential of Walker ever stepping into The Octagon for the UFC.
"Hell no. You know what would happen to Herschel Walker over here? It would be the first death in MMA," said White. "He wasn’t impressive in his first fight; he would have to turn it up for the next three or four."
On ESPN’s First Take, Walker fired back at the UFC President and even challenged him to a fight.
"Dana always tells people to put their money where your mouth is," Walker said. "And I'll tell Dana that since he says I'm so old, why doesn't he step in the ring with me because he's been practicing, as well?"
Certainly this fight has almost as little chance of happening as any, but hey—a guy can dream, right?