Is Herschel Walker good for MMA?

January 29, 2011

At 48 years old, Herschel Walker is set to fight on the Strikeforce card Saturday night. Because of his football celebrity, he has been able to penetrate mainstream media by talking about the fact that he could still play football at his age. Strikeforce and Showtime should benefit from this crossover publicity. But is Walker good for MMA?

Via MMA Weekly:

Herschel Walker isn’t trying to sell himself as a legitimate contender to the heavyweight crown. He knows all too well that he’s still very ‘green’ in mixed martial arts, and he has a ton of homework to do before he can challenge any of the top competitors in the sport. But Walker’s continued support of MMA has an ability to reach out to people who are not so familiar with it.

This week, Walker appeared on multiple national shows including ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption and The Dan Patrick Show talking football, and then MMA. For Walker’s part, he understands MMA and even sold the sport stating that it is safer than football.  Even if mainstream sports media picked up Walker’s comments about the ability to play in the NFL, he still brings up the fact he is in MMA.

Via MMA Fighting:

You could argue that Walker is similarly as valuable to Strikeforce as he was to his college coaches, if only for his PR appeal. He may not have a title run in him, but he does attract a lot of media attention, even if that doesn’t always lead to more attention for Strikeforce.

More from MMA Weekly:

It’s the goal of Herschel Walker to bring an understanding of MMA to the casual sports fan. Some may not understand the purpose of Walker being a part of what many believe to be a brutal competition, but he understands that. And perhaps him being a part of it, then praising it to everyone else that knows who he is, makes him ideal for the position of ‘MMA spokesperson.’

Payout Perspective:

Should Herschel Walker be a spokesperson for MMA? If so, how much would it help MMA?

The argument against Walker may be that he is just a sideshow that Strikeforce-Showtime is using as an overblown publicity stunt. Walker’s longevity in the sport cannot be too long, and his matches are of no significance since his opponents are not contenders either. Shouldn’t a spokesperson for MMA be successful and a contender? A face for MMA can be GSP or Cain Velasquez. Maybe Dan Henderson.

If he is a spokesman for MMA, does it matter that Walker is an athlete crossing over into MMA, and not organically grown in mixed martial arts? Even though Walker has a martial arts background, his athletic fame is from football (and maybe his stint as an Olympic bobsledder). But, unlike boxer James Toney, Walker understands MMA and is not trying to be a “bad guy.” “I want to be a good guy for MMA,” said Walker in an interview with MMA Weekly Radio.  Thus, even though Walker may not be as successful in the sport of MMA as a GSP, Cain Velasquez or Nate Diaz, he can still add value through mainstream media and his continued success.

The only drawback for Walker is his age and inexperience in the sport. At 48, it is hard to imagine Walker lasting another 5 years in this sport (Randy Couture aside). Secondly, Walker is as good as his opponent is bad. At some point, Walker may want to step up in class of fighters he will go after. At that point, he may be exposed (e.g., Kimbo Slice).

At this point, Walker is good for Strikeforce because mainstream sports media will cover Walker. Its a good story: a former Heisman trophy winner, in his late 40s, in shape, fighting in a cage. Is he good for MMA? Yes, considering his respect for the sport. His dedication to training and relaying the realities of the sport to mainstream outlets that it is a sport legitimizes MMA as a sport.

Walker can help MMA through the continued education of the sport to the casual fan. If nothing else, it will draw interest from casual fans to tune into a Strikeforce event that may be curious about Walker’s ability.

19 Responses to “Is Herschel Walker good for MMA?”

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  2. BrainSmasher on January 29th, 2011 11:01 PM

    The entire SF event was a joke last night. The main event is a “top contender” verses a bum with almost a .500 record (18-14). This shows how pathetic SF match making is. All Orgs give guys a gimme win. But even the easy fights have a level of quality and skill needed. I think Machida is getting a easy fight to get back on the win track. Yet they didnt fell the need to drag out Mike Van Arsdale to do it. They can do it with styles and still put on a credible fight that Machida could still lose if he dont bring his A game. Basically a competitive fight. No trying to force feed tha new fans of the sport posers like Diaz by letting him finish bums. If thats the best they have to offer then what is the point?

    The Herschel ordeal is just embarrassing. Yes he is green. Most piss poor fighters and over the hill athletes are. When id he not going to be green when he is 60? Is there any intentions of him ever being legit? Or is SF not a legit fight org but just a circus where you pay to ride around the big top on an elephant? He isnt getting better at this age. If he want to be a legit fighter then he should be rushed up the ladder not given meaningless fights.They fights they have given him show there is no real intentions of competitive fighting. So SF is just whoring themselves out to a celeb to masquerade as a fighter when he isnt.

    The simple truth is if being a fighter just meant beating someone you out match then everyone would step in the cage. Hell even Shaq will step in the cage if you let him choose his opponent. Does that make him a fighter? Should he be allowed that title and join the company who stepped up to face all comers even when they would surely lose?

    All i saw tonight was SF hype 2 fighters into something they are not to hide the holes and flaws in their promotion. Props to Jacare and Roger. To bad they took a backseat to this charade.

  3. BrainSmasher on January 29th, 2011 11:16 PM

    My rant aside. No he is not good for the sport. You are only good for the sport of you are legit. If people dont respect you you are not helping. I will bet a million buck(fake money of course) that not one person he got the attention of, fan and reporter, knew the circumstances of his fight and opponent. All they know is 48 year old Walkers who is 20 years to old for football is now an “Ultimate Fighter”. They dont know or remember his opponent has only 1 fight in 10 years and was beat by someone no one has heard of. So after years of MMA fighters trying to get credit as athletes and finally getting to that point where even boxers stop calling them “unskilled brawlers” and Pro football teams are having Couture and Edgar talk to the team because they are respected athletes. Now they are shoved back down to the level of a 48 year old has been in the eyes of the sports world. The sport takes 2 steps forward in the sports world when Couture beat Toney and 3 steps back when Walkers gets confused as a competitive fighters.

    If all SF is looking for is attention without respect why not just hire a actor like Russel Crowe and script him a fight. Who cares if its fake fans respecting the sport dont matter after all right?

  4. el chango on January 30th, 2011 12:10 AM

    Walker fights against cans are purely publicity stunts. People taking them seriously is hilarious. He gives people the wrong impression of MMA. He makes it look like any one can walk up and fight in high level MMA. If he fought someone like Mitrione, He would get destroyed. Can we stop this farce already.

  5. Diego on January 30th, 2011 7:57 AM

    The sport took two steps forward when Couture beat Toney? Please. That fight was pathetic. Toney is a nobody who couldn’t get a paycheck in boxing so he ran his mouth and got a paycheck on MMA. No one who knows anything about boxing thinks that fight meant a damn thing. Both the Couture-Toney and the Walker fights are showmanship, plain and simple. This is what promoters do to…promote. And unfortunately, the good fighters on the card will always get overshadowed in hype by those types of fights. However, if those other fighters perform like Roger and Jacare did, then any eyeballs that have been drawn to the fight – no matter how they were drawn to the fight – might just want to watch them again.

  6. Diego on January 30th, 2011 8:51 AM

    I liked the SF card. Good fights, good action and the price was right. No real surprises but an enjoyable night. Jacare-Lawler was especially good since it forced Jacare to dig deep to pull out the victory.

  7. mmaguru on January 30th, 2011 6:23 PM

    I don’t see a problem with Walker fighting for Strikeforce. He’s fighting the guys that make sense.

  8. BrainSmasher on January 30th, 2011 8:50 PM

    Diego

    Toney could get plenty of fights in Boxing. He wanted a title fight or a contender and noone would fight him. He was still a relatively high ranked boxer. He has only lost toguys who fight for title in boxing. His last being to Peter. If those guys suck its a reflection of boxing and its level of athletes. He was still beating name boxers. For him to lose to another old fighter gained repect in a lot of boxing fans eyes except those who still dont see the light. If you cant see the ground gain in acceptance of the ability in MMA fighters then you simply dont follow the sport close enough. There is no way you can respect a sport, org, or its fighters when there are concessions made to protect a athlete in an attempt to fraud the fans.

    Strikeforces goal, or any promotions goal is to have the best fighters they can get and showcase them to the world. Once you are aware of the situation with Walker. There is no way you can trust SF to have that goal in mind. By protecting Walker they have tarnished the quality of the product. The NFL doesnt have special guest linebackers. You cant enter a contest to be QB for the Colts for a game. They dont let Vin Diesel play Tight End for a game. Winning is to important to each team and they owe it to their fans to be always trying. No sport makes a mockery of its Organization and its players for some lame ass publicity stunt. Its a sign of desperation from a clueless promotion. If Walker was a legit fighters by all means promote him anyway you can.

  9. Jose Mendoza on January 31st, 2011 10:42 AM

    Very. The Strikeforce Diaz vs Cyborg viewership numbers and coverage should prove that. Also, it seems most of the MMA media is in agreement as well.

    http://www.mmafighting.com/2011/01/30/herschel-walkers-detractors-swing-and-miss-on-criticism/

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mma/blog/cagewriter/post/Some-MMA-fans-don-t-get-it-Herschel-Walker-is-g?urn=mma-314698

  10. mmaguru on January 31st, 2011 1:14 PM

    Numbers are in for gate and salary, SF might have just broke even with this event?

    http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2011/1/31/1966463/strikeforce-salaries-nick-diaz-top-earner-with-150k-payday#storyjump

  11. Diego on January 31st, 2011 3:42 PM

    Brain,
    I say again: Toney can’t get a paycheck in boxing. Samuel Peter beat Toney back in 2007. Since then Toney hasn’t beaten anyone worth a damn – and he only fought four more times and hasn’t fought since 2009. Yes he can get fights, but not against “name” fighters and not for any money. His only way to make money these days is to run his mouth and become a “gimmick” and that trick got old in the ring so he brought it to the Octagon. Good for him, I’m glad he got a good payday, but no one in the sport of boxing cared that he got outwrestled by a former Olympic wrestler in the UFC. Very few boxing fans (I’m talking about fans ONLY of boxing, not fight fans who like all fight sports) tuned in to see that debacle, and those who did complained about the boring fights – check out the Josh Gross’ interview with Chris Mannix on SI.com for a great example.

    The only people who tuned in were MMA fans who were interested in watching Randy Couture shut Toney’s mouth in the octagon. The boxing fans who are starting to respect MMA do it because of the performances from guys like Cain Velasquez, not because an MMA fighter beat up James Toney.

  12. Diego on January 31st, 2011 3:43 PM

    Walker is not being “protected”. He’s a novice. He’s fighting other novices. He has never pretended that he’s gunning for a title and no one is saying that he should or calling him the next big thing. He knows his place in the sport and is willing to use his name to help other fighters. He made $5k for his past fight and here is what he had to say: “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.” What’s wrong with that?

    The only people who have a problem with it are SF haters who are going to knock whatever SF does (and curiously enough, in the same argument defend the gimmicky fights the UFC has been known to put on once in a while).

  13. Diego on January 31st, 2011 4:29 PM

    Thanks for the links Jose. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  14. BrainSmasher on January 31st, 2011 10:31 PM

    LOL give me one example of the UFC going to the depths to protect someone like SF is Walker? Did Kimbo get an easy fight in TUF? Did they bring in Non UFC level fighters for him to fight? He fought the low level guys who were already in the UFC. After a couple fights he got fed to a up and comer to see if he stays or goes. He lost and got his walking papers. The UFC would have loved to keep him if he was good enough. Hee was big money. But unfortunately the concept of “good enough” is not under stood in SF as there is no standards when there should be. That is the point. SF should be the number 2 promotion in the world where there fighters are respected and that isnt the case. Walker and anyone he has fought is not SF caliber. I have no problem with anyone Walker faces. But if you are a “novice” then go to the minor leagues. SF loses any credibility when they let a “novice” over shadow their best fighters by running Amateur night as the main event.

    Its laughable to calim the UFC does the same when they have had tons of big money fighters come in and it would have been best for money and ratings to protect them. From Tank Abbott’s return in 2003, Royce’s return vs Hughes, Brock, and then Kimbo. Kimbo got the easiest fight fighting Houston who was once ranked in the top 10 after beating Jardine. But fighting in the UFC requires a curtain level of skill. They want to be seen as the place for the best fighters and always searching for the best.

    I never doubted the attention Walker gets. But getting attention doesnt always mean a good thing. If SF isnt retaining fans who Walker brings in then is isnt doing anything. If the fans dont have respect for the sport they will not stay. We saw the influx of fans in the UFC due to TUF. We see the increased PPV numbers since Brock come to the UFC even on cards he isnt on. Kimbo Slice didnt bring fans to MMA. UFC numbers didnt jump across the board because he fought. He was a short term success for the UFC but they didnt hurt themselves because they didnt protect him. They give him a chance like any other fighter. Walker is the same way. He wont add fans to the sport or SF and when he is gone SF will lose credibility because they way they handled him. Then shadow of doubt starts to creep in the minds of fans for all fighters. Check the Net. people are going ape shit over the protection of the fighters. People are now calling out Diaz. People no longer assume these guys are that good. All there fighters are losing respect because mismanagement and match making.

    How long will they hide Diaz from Daley? lmao!!! The entire Promotion is a joke.

  15. Diego on February 1st, 2011 6:36 AM

    No respose re: James Toney and the giant leap that MMA took with the Couture-Toney fight? OK, let’s talk Nick and Walker then.

    I think Diaz is fighting Daley next – as long as Daley wins his BAMMA fight. That will be Daley’s second fight in SF, so I guess the answer to your question “How long will they hide Diaz from Daley? lmao!!! ” is: not long. Nick has fought everyone SF has, and has hopped the pond to fight in Japan when SF didn’t have anyone. That’s all the guy can do. I did want to see him fight Jay Hieron, I’m not sure what happened there since. Other than that, Nick has fought everyone he can get his hands on. He’s not being protected, SF just doesn’t have a deep roster at 170.

    As a novice, Herschel Walker should rightfully be fighting on the untelevised undercard except for one small detail…he’s Herschel Walker. Why on earth would SF not show his fights since he draws so much interest? That would be dumb. And as much as UFC fanboys on the net would like to believe otherwise, Coker is not dumb.

    There’s a lot about SF that can be criticized and rightfully so, but if you look at the growth arch of that promotion, they are improving year in and year out and they’ve managed to do it by taking small steps and not going deep in the red – something that killed numerous promotions in the past. I hope they continue to improve. The sport needs them.

    Walker fighting once a year for SF will not define SF as a promotion any more that Bobby Lashley defined them. Both fighters have their place as draws, and that draw can be managed for profit, which can be (and is) invested back into the sport.

    And I’m off this post. I get tired of talking in circles.

  16. mmaguru on February 1st, 2011 9:40 AM

    Thanks Diego, your post makes a lot of sense. Diaz is running out of competition. The best thing that could happen for SF is that Daley wins in a closely contested battle, leading to a rematch. This would give them some time to build up some more fighters for title contention. I like Walker on the main card. He looks good out there. Not a world beater but he’s not out of his league either.

  17. mmaguru on February 1st, 2011 4:29 PM

    I think the score is settled, Hershal is great for MMA peak of 850K viewers is amazing on a pay channel. Big numbers, looking like a big year for SF on Showtime, possibly CBS.

    http://mmajunkie.com/news/22299/strikeforce-diaz-vs-cyborg-peaks-with-more-than-850000-viewers.mma

  18. BrainSmasher on February 1st, 2011 4:51 PM

    “No respose re: James Toney and the giant leap that MMA took with the Couture-Toney fight? OK, let’s talk Nick and Walker then.”

    I was waiting for you to explain how Toney isnt a good boxer because he lost to top ranked guys. Boxers have trouble getting good fights all the time. Its the nature of a chaotic sport that allows people to pick their opponents and avoid bad match ups. No contender will fight Toney because its a no win situation due to his age. But you go ahead and believe people not wanting to fight you means you are not any good. I guess Pacman sucks before FMJ wont fight him. Im not saying Toney is any good but there is no result in the boxing ring to suggest he sucks outside of your brilliant logic.

    As for Diaz. Yes he is protected. You are delusional if you think Cyborg is the best opponent they can fight. He had a 1-1 record in SF. There are tons of skilled fighters out there with great records who are much better than Cyborg. Not only do they such at developing talent but there is really not even an attempt at doing to. So when they plug Cyborn in vs their poster boy its by choice. LOL at Diaz cleaning out japan. He beat a fraud in sakurai and then fought 155 fighters before that. Since you seem to love maiking excuses for him. Why did he resign with SF if he had no one to fight? After all he seems to call out everyone in the UFC. Is it because all the guys who beat him down before in the UFC cant event hack it at 170 and had to drop down and he knows he would go 0-3 and be out of a job? Ah Ha! I think we know the answer to that.

    As for Walker. He shouldnt be fighting for SF at all if SF is the promotion you claim them to be. As for him being good for the sport. He hasnt done anything for the sport. Where is the residual viewers? They are not there and the ratings show it. Where is the PPV buys? After all someone so good should be bringing in money to SF, right? Getting eyes on a product doesnt mean success and you can ignore that all you want. The UFC during the SEG days got tons of viewers paying for their product. But the way they promoted the sport got eyes but at the same time caused no one to respect it as a sport or its fighters. They sent the wrong message to a lot of people. But they did it for a quick buck with no long term effect in mind. Walker is not making long term fans for the sport of SF. When he leaves so will the fans who watched him because eh was never a legit fighter. He was never respected as a fighter so none of them respect the sport or the fighters. People who tune on for spectacles dont become fans. Thats goes for the bloodsport of the early UFC, Kimbo, and Walker.

    Keep in mind walker said he only wanted 1 fight and SF wanted more. So lets not act like he is a fighter who just wants to compete. He could careless about the sport or fighting. He is just doing it for the money. Which is much more than the 5K reported.

  19. Jose Mendoza on February 1st, 2011 6:39 PM

    My write-up on the event is now up.
    =)

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