At UFC 103, one of the megastars signing autographs and posing for pictures with star-struck fans was former Dallas Cowboy running back Herschel Walker. That didn’t seem so strange. Walker is still a big name in Dallas, where all former Cowboys are revered beyond all reason, Walker as much for the trade that sent him to Minnesota in exchange for multiple Super Bowl rings as much for his performance on the field.
The very next day, Strikeforce sent out a press release that they had signed the 47-year old Walker to a promotional contract.
“I’ve been training for several years,” Walker said in a statement. “I would play college football games on Saturday and then compete in martial arts tournaments on Sunday after church. I’m now looking forward to opening up another chapter in my life and to competing in MMA.”
Now that, that was pretty damn weird.
Sure, Walker is an elite athlete. Not only did he play pro football for 12 seasons, but he also made the Olympic bobsled team in 1992.
That was in 1992. It’s 2009. If you’re not Randy Couture, 47 is too old to be fighting in the cage, even if you famously do 500 pushups a day like the former Heisman winner. Walker is already certifiable. He claims to have multiple personalities and has battled for years with violent rages.
Maybe one of his many personalities was born to be a cage fighter? It looks like we will find out, as he heads to San Jose to train at the American Kickboxing Academy with “Crazy” Bob Cook, Josh Koscheck and their crew of top young fighters. The publicity stunt has surely worked. Walker’s name still carries weight and the news has been reported across the media specturm, from hip hop radio to mainstream news sources.
Walker has been the butt of many jokes, but one man who is not amused is UFC President Dana White.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” White said on the Inside The Ultimate Fighter podcast. “People think we’re anti-competition? We’re anti-dumb competition. Doing stupid things like this, putting a 50-year-old guy in the Octagon for the first time, and then going out there putting out press releases like it’s a big deal because you signed a 50-year-old Herschel Walker? Are you serious?”
White, who has a roster filled with ex-NFL players on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter (albeit none who are 47 years old), may not like the move. But as a cry for attention it worked wonders, both for Walker and for Strikeforce. Now if only Strikeforce would sign Jose Canseco. It’s right out of their “regional carny” playbook. Walker played in Texas. Canseco was a Texas Ranger. It’s a battle of the Lone Star State. Let the multi-sport dream match begin!