Just months after the stunning announcement that he would try his hand at mixed martial arts (MMA), NFL and NCAA football legend, Herschel Walker, will make his highly-anticipated Strikeforce MMA debut at BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida on Saturday, January 30. Superstar Nick Diaz and Strikeforce world 145-pound women’s champion Cris Cyborg will co-headline a stacked fight card during Strikeforce’s historic first visit to the state of Florida.
Walker, the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner and two-time Pro Bowl competitor, will face an opponent to be announced in one of as many as five live, Showtime (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) televised bouts on the Strikeforce card.
The 6 foot 1 inch, 220 pound former running back, who already holds a fifth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and boasts additional training in the combat disciplines of Muay Thai and Kenpo, recently entered a 12 week MMA training camp at San Jose, California’s American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), which plays home to a host of the world’s greatest fighters, including Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson and undefeated middleweight superstar Cung Le.
Walker, a 1999 College Hall of Fame inductee who was also selected to Sports Illustrated’s NCAA All-Century Team that year, has never been one to shy away from the road less traveled.
Following his junior year at the University of Georgia where he had set the NCAA freshman rushing record en route to an undefeated season and Sugar Bowl championship victory over Notre Dame,
Walker, a born-again Christian, astonished the sports world by withdrawing from school to play professional ball in the newly formed United States Football League (USFL) rather than wait to enter the NFL draft after the graduation of his collegiate class, a rule maintained by the world’s largest professional football league at the time.
While the vast majority of football players typically follow an intensive weight room regimen, Walker relied on bodyweight exercise, conditioning, and calisthenics while maintaining very little body fat.
Walker was eventually drafted in 1985 by The Dallas Cowboys and established himself as a premiere running back in the league. In 1986, he was the driving force behind a historic trade that sent in to The Minnesota Vikings in exchange for five players and six draft picks.
In 12 NFL seasons with four different teams, he became the only player to gain 4,000 yards three different ways – rushing, receiving, and kickoff returns. He is one of six players to exceed 60 touchdowns rushing and 20 touchdowns receiving and is the only player in NFL history to register a 90 plus yard reception, a 90 plus yard run, and a 90 plus yard kickoff return, all in one season (1994).
Off the gridiron, Walker has achieved a handful of feats, including a seventh place finish in the 1992 Winter Olympics two-man bobsled competition. Now 47 years of age, the native of Wrightsville, Georgia will look to conquer a whole new world.
Diaz will make his first start since he submitted hard-hitting Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith with a rear naked choke in the third round (1:41) of their Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields matchup at St. Louis, Missouri’s Scottrade Center on June 6, 2009. The 26 year old Diaz, a native of Stockton, California, will put a five fight win streak on the line.
Cyborg made history on August 15, 2009 when the 24-year-old native of Brazil stopped superstar Gina Carano with a punishing barrage of strikes in the first round (4:59) of their meeting to become the first-ever Strikeforce women’s champion. The long-awaited showdown between Carano and Cyborg also marked the first women’s main event in the history of any major MMA promotion.
Strikeforce in March 2009 signed a multi-year agreement to stage live MMA events on the premium cable television network. The promotion made its live, primetime debut on CBS with the “Fedor vs. Rogers” mega-fight that it co-promoted with M-1 Global on Saturday, November 7 and generated 5.46 million viewers for the main event between the world’s number one heavyweight, Fedor Emelianenko, and superstar Brett “The Grim” Rogers.