January 30, 2010
I'll admit it. When Herschel Walker announced that, at the age of 47, he was taking on the challenge of MMA, I thought it would end in disaster for him. I thought he was just another star athlete who didn't understand MMA or take it seriously, and that he'd lose a few teeth because of it.
One fight in to his career, I've clearly been proven wrong.
Walker just finished beating the hell out of a guy named Greg Nagy at Strikeforce: Miami. And sure, Nagy wasn't the stiffest competition the world has to offer (more on that in a minute), but Walker did everything he could've been expected to do, and then some. Without question, Walker had trained seriously and extensively for this.
He even chose to fight most of the fight on the ground, which isn't something you'd expect from the less-experienced fighter. He got out of a couple of submission attempts, he stuffed a takedown attempt, he easily advanced to the full mount position multiple times, and he controlled Nagy in every way imaginable.
I don't say this to belittle Walker's victory in any way, because I'm very impressed with him, however, it's got to be noted that Nagy ... well, there aren't any world championships in Greg Nagy's immediate future. Unless he's also really good at chess or something.
From a purely athletic standpoint, I'd say that Walker was roughly 8,000 times a better athlete than Nagy, even though Walker's 47 and Nagy's 26. Nagy was slower, weaker, and the fact that he was the more experienced fighter didn't show even a little bit.
How bad was Nagy? The referee stopped the fight in the third round while Nagy was flat on his stomach with Walker on top of him, punching him in the back of the armpit. It's the first fight I've ever seen stopped due to armpit strikes. Usually, when a fight is stopped due to strikes, it's because a guy's getting beaten in the face, and he can't defend himself. This fight was stopped because Nagy was laying there, taking a beating to the armpit. He didn't argue with the stoppage.
But the real story is Walker. His athletic conditioning is freakish and almost beyond comprehension. His attitude is right, and he's obviously put in the work. He was anything but a joke out there. His MMA debut was pretty much the opposite of Jose Canseco's.
He's never going to be a world champion, and he'll probably never even be one of the better MMA fighters in the heavyweight or light-heavyweight division. But he can, at the very least, call himself a legitimate fighter, that's no small accomplishment. He's taken on a huge challenge at an unlikely age, and he's proven himself worthy. It's an amazing story, and Walker can't get enough credit for what he's accomplished.
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