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48° Good Afternoon
SportsMixed Martial Arts

Javier Mendez on the Herschel Walker fight

Former NFL football player Herschel Walker, center, smiles

Former NFL football player Herschel Walker, center, smiles after a training session at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif. (Nov. 15, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

This week in MMA has reinforced two things we already know:

- Everyone wants to hear Herschel Walker explain why, at 48, he has turned to mixed martial arts.

- No one knows much beyond some Internet searching about his opponent, Scott Carson, at Strikeforce this Saturday night.

"They sent us a video that I think was a dummy video," Javier Mendez, Walker's trainer at AKA, told Fightin' Words. "[Carson] looked terrible."

Yes, Carson has five professional fights. Yes, only of them has occurred after June 30, 2001. Yes, 2001.

Such limited exposure doesn't necessarily hurt Carson. At least not in the eyes of Mendez, who has trained his share of elite fighters (right, UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez?).

"I don't like surprises," Mendez said. "We're going in cold turkey on this one."

Not that Mendez isn't confident in Walker's ability. Mendez has said before that if he had been able to work with Walker, the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner, when he was much younger, then Walker could have been the greatest MMA fighter in the world. Mendez did not back down from that statement last week, either.

But he's also realistic. Mendez understands that Walker is still a newbie in the world of MMA. Even Walker refers to himself as "a young fighter." He has one professional fight, a third-round TKO over little-known Greg Nagy in January 2010.

Dismiss Carson if you wish. Call it a gimmick fight if you wish. But understand this: Walker is getting the fights he should be getting right now for someone on his level of experience. He's getting the publicity because of his athletic resume and pedigree. There's a big difference between the two.

"As a fighter, he needs to be taken seriously," Mendez said. "He's not a gimmick. He's excelling at a rate that most average people or even good athletes can't. Let's not even use his age here. That's not even a factor here."



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