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SportsMixed Martial Arts

Why I'll watch Herschel Walker's MMA fight

Former Eagles and NFL running back Herschel Walker,

Former Eagles and NFL running back Herschel Walker, 47, who is in training for his mixed martial arts debut, speaks to the media regarding his entrance to MMA from inside Gallagher's Steak House in New York, Wednesday, January 13, 2010. His first fight is January 30 in Miami. (Alfred Giancarli/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT) Photo Credit: MCT/Alfred Giancarli

It's quick and easy to dismiss Herschel Walker's mixed martial arts debut at Strikeforce Miami this Saturday as gimmicky and a bad idea for the sport.

Maybe it will be, but I plan on watching the fight somehow.

MMA purists may bash Walker, and Strikeforce for putting the 47-year-old Heisman Trophy winner inside the cage to fight Greg Nagy (who?). Admittedly, there's a bit of William "The Refrigerator" Perry in a WWE battle royal feel to this, but comparing Perry's athleticism to Walker's is caramel apples to organic apple slices.

So why am I interested in seeing Walker fight? Well, it's simple, really.

Back when I was a young'n, I watched on television as Walker (then a Dallas Cowboy), leap from the 4-yard-line, over 15 large men and land in the end zone for a touchdown. For you young'ns nowadays, there was a time when running backs in the NFL would jump over the offensive and defensive lines to score a touchdown. True story.

Of course, they usually did it from the 1-yard line. Not Walker.

For him, a 1-yard dive was too pedestrian. His athleticism was far beyond that. This is a man who never lifted weights. Still hasn't. Just the routine set of 1,500 pushups and 1,500 situps each day.

I'm not a Cowboys fan, but seeing Walker soar 12 feet in the air with just a few yards' headstart hooked me. I feel I owe him the benefit of the doubt here, or at least a few minutes of my life once more. He gave us something we never saw before (and won't see again). Surely, that's worth 15 minutes more than 15 years later.

Will he be competitive in the cage? Who knows? He's a fifth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a fact that's been trumpeted by Strikeforce to add credibility to the bout. During his press tour, Walker said that actually hindered him in training. But a black belt is a black belt, and it's just another example of his athleticism. And training at AKA in San Jose, Calif., with fellas such as Cain Velasquez can't hurt either.

And then there's the little matter of making the U.S. Olympic bobsled team in 1992 after two weeks of training. His two-man team finished seventh.

So, yeah, I want to watch Herschel Walker's MMA debut at Strikeforce Miami.

New York Sports