Mixed Reviews for Herschel Walker's MMA Debut at Strikeforce: Miami

Photo by Dave Mandel via Sherdog

On the one hand, Kevin Iole accentuates the positive:

There aren’t too many 47-year-olds this side of Randy Couture who could do what the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner did Saturday in stopping Greg Nagy at 2:17 of the third round in his MMA debut.

Walker’s conditioning was superb and he was barely breathing hard when he got off Nagy after referee Troy Waugh had seen enough and stopped the bout. Contrast that with the performance of about half the cast of Season 10 of "The Ultimate Fighter," heavyweights who seemed to gas literally 30 or 45 seconds into the fight.

And points out why MMA fans should be grateful to Walker:

The promotion for the fight card – which featured three quality matches – was nearly all about Walker. He was on "The Howard Stern Show" and SportsCenter and in newspapers across the country.

Nearly all of those outlets would have ignored the card had Walker not been a part of it.

Sergio Non comes down more in the middle:

Herschel Walker proved he's no Johnnie Morton.

...

A Heisman Trophy winner who played professional football for 14 years, Walker is by far the most prominent NFL veteran to enter MMA. At 47, he's also the oldest.

The most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter featured several cast members who briefly appeared in the NFL before embarking on fighting careers. But prior to Walker, the most notable NFL veteran to try MMA was Morton, a former star wide receiver for the Detroit Lions who lasted just 38 seconds before being knocked out two and a half years ago in his only professional fight.

CBS Sport's Gregg Doyel takes a different view:

So if you're wondering -- no, Herschel Walker doesn't have a future in MMA. At 47, there simply isn't enough time to learn all the intricate skills required to fight at a high level, even for an athlete of Walker's ability. If he's content to fight similarly unskilled opponents and win on sheer athletic ability, he can do that, just as he did Saturday night. He won't draw nearly as much attention again, because the cat's out of the bag: Herschel Walker is a great athlete, but he's not a very good fighter. That's the truth as his career moves forward, although nobody in his camp, not even Walker, was willing to say afterward that his career would move forward. There was always the chance that his professional career would be a one-fight night, another chance for him to dabble.

For his sake, I hope that's the case. Walker is not someone you could possibly root against.

... After booing much of his fight, (the crowd) cheered as he left the cage.

And if they're like me, they were hoping it was the last time they watch a fight featuring Herschel Walker.

All in all, I think I come down somewhere closer to Doyel's view. Yeah Walker's fight held virtually no interest to me as an MMA fan and student of the sport, but he did draw new eyeballs to MMA. It's good that Strikeforce is playing up the spectacle aspects of the sport to draw attention, but it's better that they not overdo it.

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